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Friday, May 20, 2022

Al Jazeera reporter shot dead during Israeli raid in West Bank

By Joseph Federman and Fares Akram | The Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akleh, one of the satellite channel’s best-known journalists, was shot dead on Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid on the West Bank. The broadcaster and two accompanying journalists blamed the Israeli forces.

The Israeli military initially suggested that Abu Akleh may have been killed by stray fire from Palestinian militants. But the military chief, Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi, later backed down on that claim, saying it was not clear who fired the fatal shot.

Abu Akleh’s death could spark new investigations into Israel’s military justice system, which is being investigated by the International Criminal Court as part of a war crimes investigation. This threatened to further strain the often strained relationship between the military and the international media.

Abu Akleh, 51, was a respected and well-known face in the Middle East who, now in his 55th year, is best known for Al Jazeera Arabi’s coverage of the harsh realities of Israel’s open-ended military occupation of Palestinians. She was widely recognized in the West Bank and was also a US citizen.

His death reverberated throughout the region. Arab governments condemned the killing.

There was also an atmosphere of mourning in the West Bank. In Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Autonomy Government, the body of Abu Aqleh, draped in a Palestinian flag and covered with a garland of flowers, was carried through the streets of the city. Hundreds shouted the slogan, “With our soul, our blood, we will deliver you, Shirin.”

On Thursday, a procession was to take out the body for burial in Jerusalem, where Abu Akleh was born.

In East Jerusalem, dozens of mourners gathered at the family home in his honor. Her niece Lina Abu Akleh called her “my best friend, my second mother, my partner”.

“I never thought this day would come where the news would be about her and she wouldn’t be the one covering the news,” she said.

At one point, a group of Israeli police broke into the house, where they were immediately met with slogans of “assassins” and “occupiers” and chants of “get out”. It was not immediately clear why the police came, and the officers quickly left.

Palestinians gathered outside the family home on Wednesday evening, some holding up posters bearing the Palestinian flag and a picture of Shirin Abu Aqleh. When the group headed for a main road, Israeli police tried to stop them. Scramble ensured. Five Palestinians were injured and about half a dozen were taken into custody.

Abu Akleh was killed on the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, known as a militant stronghold. Israel has conducted almost daily raids in Jenin in recent weeks, following a series of deadly attacks inside Israel by militants from the region.

Israel’s military chief Kohavi said his army was attacked by indiscriminate firing by Palestinian militants. The army released a body cam video of forces in the town while heavy fire is heard in the background.

But following earlier suggestions from Israeli officials that Palestinian fire may have killed the journalist, Kohavi said, “At this stage we cannot determine whose fire caused the damage and we regret his death.” ” Kohavi said a special team was being formed to investigate.

Al Jazeera accused Israel of “deliberately targeting and killing our ally”. Palestinian journalists accompanying Abu Akleh at the time said they had made Israeli troops aware of their presence, and that they did not see terrorists in the area.

Abu Akleh’s producer, Palestinian journalist Ali Samodi, was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in the back. He added that any suggestion by terrorists to shoot him was “completely false”.

The outcome of Israel’s military investigation will be closely monitored. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel in both the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court and has called the investigation unfair and anti-Semitic. One of its major arguments against the investigation has been that its military justice system is capable of conducting investigations on its own.

The findings of its investigation into the death of Abu Akleh could become the subject of new investigation. Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Palestinian official, said Palestinians would transfer their information on the matter to the court.

The Palestinian Forensic Institute said a preliminary autopsy was inconclusive. Ryan al-Ali, the institute’s director, said a deformed bullet had been recovered and further studies were being conducted to find out who fired the bullet.

In New York, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the death of Abu Akle “truly appalling” and called for a transparent investigation. He said protecting American citizens and journalists is “our top priority.”

Thomas-Greenfield said Aboud Akleh had “an extraordinary interview” with him in the West Bank last November. “I left there feeling extraordinary respect for him,” she said.

The UN Human Rights Office urged an “independent, transparent investigation into his murder”. Punishment must end.”

The White House has also called for a thorough investigation. “It is of paramount importance to investigate the attacks on the independent media and prosecute those responsible,” Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Al Jazeera, which has long had strained relations with Israel, interrupted its broadcast to announce his death early Wednesday.

In a statement aired on its channel, it called on the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces responsible for deliberately targeting and killing our ally”.

It circulated a separate video showing Abu Akle lying on the side of a road wall as another journalist nearby leans over and a man shouts for an ambulance. Gunshots are heard in the background. Both journalists were wearing blue jackets with “PRESS” clearly written on them. The source of the firing has not been shown in the video.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security matters, condemned it as a “shocking crime” committed by Israeli forces.

Qatar, the Arab League and Jordan all condemned the shooting, and in the Jordanian capital, Amman, a group of journalists and activists held a solidarity march outside the offices of Al Jazeera.
Israel has long been critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage, but authorities generally allow their journalists to operate freely.

Relations between the Israeli military and foreign media, especially Palestinian journalists, are strained. Several Palestinian journalists have been injured by rubber-coated bullets or tear gas while covering demonstrations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In 2018 two Palestinian journalists were shot dead by Israeli forces while filming violent protests at the Gaza border.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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