Israeli forces have shot Shireen Abu Akleh in the head while she was on assignment in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces on Wednesday 11 May 2022 shot dead Al Jazeera’s journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Abu Akleh was hit by a live bullet on Wednesday while covering Israeli raids in the city of Jenin and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, according to the ministry and Al Jazeera journalists.
Shireen Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest when she was killed.
She was declared dead at the hospital, the ministry said.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, Ali Samoudi, was also wounded after being shot in the back. He is now in a stable condition, and said that there were no Palestinian fighters present when the journalists were shot, directly disputing an Israeli statement that referenced the possibility.
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” said Samoudi. “The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen … there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene.”
Shatha Hanaysha, a Palestinian journalist who was present next to Abu Akleh when she was shot, also told Al Jazeera that there had been no confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army, and said that the group of journalists had been targeted.
“We were four journalists, we were all wearing vests, all wearing helmets,” Hanaysha said. “The [Israeli] occupation army did not stop firing even after she collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots. The army was adamant on shooting to kill.”
The circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death are still emerging, but videos of the incident show that she was shot in the head, said Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim.
“What we know for now is that the Palestinian Health Ministry has announced her death. Shireen Abu Akleh, was covering the events unfolding in Jenin, specifically an Israeli raid the city, which is north of the occupied West Bank, when she was hit by a bullet to the head,” Ibrahim said, speaking from the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Shireen Abu Akleh sent a message to Al Jazeera’s Ramallah bureau via email at 6:13 a.m. in which she wrote: “Occupation forces storm Jenin and besiege a house in the Jabriyat neighborhood. On the way there, I will bring you news as soon as the picture becomes clear.”
Separately in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said that an 18 year old Palestinian, Thaer Mislet-Yazouri, was shot by Israeli forces in the town of al-Bireh, near the illegal settlement of Psagot.
Speaking through tears, Ibrahim said Abu Akleh was a “very well respected journalist”.
Abu Akleh, who was a joint Palestinian-American citizen, was one of Al Jazeera’s first field correspondents, joining the network in 1997.
The Israeli military said that it had come under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. It added that it was “investigating the event”.
Al Jazeera condemns Israel’s killing of Akleh
The Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera said in a statement it held Israel responsible for killing ‘in cold blood’ its veteran correspondent in occupied West Bank.
Below is Al Jazeera Media Network’s statement on the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh:[In a blatant murder, violating international laws and norms, the Israeli occupation forces assassinated in cold blood Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Palestine, Shireen Abu Akleh, targeting her with live fire early this morning, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, while conducting her journalistic duty, clearly wearing a press jacket that identifies her a journalist, covering the Israeli occupation forces storming of Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
Al Jazeera Media Network condemns this heinous crime, which intends to only prevent the media from conducting their duty. Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen. It also calls on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their intentional targeting and killing of Shireen.
The Israeli authorities are also responsible for the targeting of Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Samudi, who was also shot in the back while covering the same event, and he is currently undergoing treatment.
Al Jazeera extends its sincere condolences to the family of Shireen in Palestine, and to her extended family around the world, and we pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice.]
Fatah, the party of the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, condemned Abu Akleh’s killing.
“Targeting Shireen is a clear targeting of the truth, and [Israel] wants to cover its crimes against the Palestinian people,” said Osama al-Qawasami, Fatah’s spokesman. “Israel wants to send a message to journalists around the world that the fate of whoever wants to cover the truth will be shot and killed.”
Also, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: “Palestine has lost one of the Knights of Truth who worked with sincerity and honesty to convey the Palestinian narrative to the world.”
On its part, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas commented on the killing of by Israeli forces , saying, “Hamas: “The assassination of Al-Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was deliberate, and the occupation must be held accountable for it.”
The U.S. Embassy in Israel was cited by many news outlets as saying that Akleh held dual U.S.-Palestinian nationality, and U.S. Ambassador Thomas Nides referred to her in a tweet as an “American and Palestinian journalist.”
Yair Lapid, the Israeli foreign minister, said that Tel Aviv was offering a “joint pathological investigation” into Abu Akleh’s “sad death”. He added that “journalists must be protected in conflict zones”.
Al Jazeera’s offices in the Gaza Strip, which also housed the Associated Press, were bombed by Israeli forces during an offensive a year ago, and Palestinian and international journalists say they have been regularly targeted by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Many in Palestine and abroad took to social media to express their shock and grief.
“Israeli occupation forces assassinated our beloved journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering their brutality in Jenin this morning. Shireen was most prominent Palestinian journalist and a close friend,” wrote Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Those who knew her described her as brave, kind and a voice of the Palestinians.
“Shireen was a brave, kind and high integrity journalist that I and millions of Palestinians grew up watching,” wrote Fadi Quran, an activist at the campaign group, Avaaz.
“Horrified to hear of Israel’s killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin! Shireen has boldly covered Israel’s aggression in Palestine for over two decades,” wrote Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American activist and lawyer.
“In disbelief,” wrote Salem Barahmeh, a Palestinian activist. “We grew up to her reporting on the second intifada. She was our voice. Rest in power and peace. Another day, another tragedy.”
On his part, Giles Trendle, Al Jazeera’s managing director, said that the network was “shocked and saddened” by the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.
“We have had a history throughout the world but particularly in this region, where we have had tragedies,” he said, calling for a transparent investigation to the killing of Abu Akleh.
“As journalists, we carry on. Our mission is to carry on. We will not be silenced despite attempts to silence us,” said Trendle. “Our mission is always to carry on to inform the world what is happening. And that is more important ever.”