Reporter Shireen Abu Akleh dies after being shot by Israeli army: Ministry

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An Al Jazeera journalist was shot and killed by the Israeli army while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

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Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian female reporter for the broadcaster's Arabic language channel who is also a US citizen, was shot and died soon afterward. Ali Samoudi, another Palestinian journalist, was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in the back.

In video footage of the incident, Abu Akleh can be seen wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word “PRESS.”

Samoudi, who was working as her producer, told The Associated Press they were among a group of seven reporters who went to cover the raid early Wednesday. He said they were all wearing protective gear that clearly marked them as reporters, and they passed by Israeli troops so the soldiers would see them and know that they were there.

He said the first shot missed them, then a second struck him, and a third killed Abu Akleh. He said there were no militants or other civilians in the area — only the reporters and the army.

He said the military's suggestion that they were shot by militants was a “complete lie.”

Shaza Hanaysheh, a reporter with a Palestinian news website who was also among the reporters, gave a similar account in an interview with Al Jazeera's Arabic channel, saying there were no clashes or shooting in the immediate area.

She said that when the shots rang out she and Abu Akleh ran toward a tree to take shelter.

“I reached the tree before Shireen. She fell on the ground,” Hanaysheh said. “The soldiers did not stop shooting even after she fell. Every time I extended my hand to pull Shireen, the soldiers fired at us.”

The Qatar-based network interrupted its broadcast to announce her death. In a statement flashed on its channel, it called on the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague.”

“We pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.

Journalists escort the body of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was shot dead by Israeli troops as she covered a raid on the West Bank's Jenin refugee camp on May 11, 2022, at the hospital in Jenin. (AFP)
Journalists escort the body of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was shot dead by Israeli troops as she covered a raid on the West Bank's Jenin refugee camp on May 11, 2022, at the hospital in Jenin. (AFP)

Qatar’s deputy foreign minister condemned the killing by “Israeli occupation,” and in a Twitter post called for an end to “state sponsored Israeli terrorism.” Al Jazeera said that Akleh was killed “in cold blood” by Israeli forces.

The country’s assistant foreign minister Lolwah al-Khater said on Twitter that Israeli forces killed Akleh “by shooting her in the face” while she was “wearing the press vest and a helmet,” adding that “this state sponsored Israeli terrorism must STOP, unconditional support to Israel must end.”

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said in a tweet that he encourages a “thorough investigation” into the circumstances of Akleh’s death.

The Israeli military said its forces came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. The military said it is “investigating the event and looking into the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said it had proposed to the Palestinian Authority a joint pathological investigation into the reporter’s death. “Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth,” he tweeted.

Israel’s Prime Minister later said that the Palestinian Authority rejected the Israeli offer to hold a joint autopsy.

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

Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem. She began working for Al-Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported on-camera from across the Palestinian territories.

Israel has carried out near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks amid a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, many of them carried out by Palestinians from in and around Jenin. The town, and particularly its refugee camp, has long been known as a militant bastion.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want the territory to form the main part of their future state. Nearly three million Palestinians live in the territory under Israeli military rule. Israel has built more than 130 settlements across the West Bank that are home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers, who have full Israeli citizenship.

Israelis have long been critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage, but authorities generally allow its journalists to operate freely. Another Al Jazeera reporter, Givara Budeiri, was briefly detained last year during a protest in Jerusalem and treated for a broken hand, which her employer blamed on rough treatment by police.

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