Al-Jazeera Journalist Killed: Was It Intentional?


JENIN, northern occupied West Bank — Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent Al-Jazeera journalist covering the Israel-Palestine conflict, was shot dead on Wednesday, May 11th.


Her final moments were captured, on news footage. Seven shots can be heard. The cameraman shows a woman, in a flack jacket, clearly labeled “Press,” lying prone in the dirt. She was unarmed and killed while doing her job.



A distinguished and well-known journalist

Shireen Abu Akleh was a dual Palestinian-American national, one of Al-Jazeera’s first field correspondents, joining the network in 1997. Al-Jazeera is a news channel based in Qatar.


She was reporting on the Israeli raids on Jenin, the northern occupied West Bank. For the last six weeks, Israeli forces have been conducting raids nightly, looking for suspects in a series of deadly attacks inside Israel. The head of the Medicine department at al-Najah University in Nablus confirmed that Abu Akleh was shot, in the head.


Who Killed her?

Several witnesses and the Palestinian Health Ministry said it was the Israeli soldiers who shot her.


Al-Jazeera reported that Al-Samoudi, a journalist who was on the scene; and survived from a bullet wound on the back, stated that “We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” 


“The first bullet hit me, and the second bullet hit Shireen … there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene.”


Naftali Bennett, Israel’s prime minister, said that Abu Akleh most likely was killed by a Palestinian gunman.


The Israel Military stated that the investigation “concluded that it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire, which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh.”


Violence at Journalist’s Funeral

Image: From NBC News

On Friday, May 13th, Israeli police clashed with Palestinians mourning around the coffin of the murdered journalist at the start of her funeral in Jerusalem. Video footage captured Israeli officers charging toward the crowd. The group carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin was backed against a wall, almost dropping the casket. Later, her coffin was put in a vehicle and drove toward the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin in Jerusalem’s walled old city.


The death of Palestinian journalists needs to end


Human rights watcher, Omar Shakir, expressed to Al-Jazeera on May 11th that it was horrific that a journalist was killed while doing her job. He explains that this is not a one-off event. It’s an event that needs to be understood in the context of the systematic practices of excessive force toward Palestinians by Israeli forces and the killing of many other Palestinian journalists.


This latest killing of Abu Akleh is likely to add fuel to a surging Israel-Palestine conflict.


In the words of Al Jazeera’s managing director, Giles Trendle, “As journalists, we carry on. Our mission is to carry on. We will not be silenced,” 


“Our mission is always to carry on to inform the world what is happening. And that is more important ever.”


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