Tuesday 05 July, 2022

Al-Estiklal Newspaper

Shireen Abu Akleh’s Killing Highlights the Systematic Israeli Attacks on Journalists in Palestine

2022/05/12 07:05:00 | Murad Jandali | Reports
“Citing the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, 86 Palestinian journalists have been killed since 1967.”
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In an incident that is not the first and will not be the last, Al-Jazeera correspondent in Palestine, Sherine Abu Akleh (51 years), was shot dead by the Israeli occupation forces during her media coverage in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday morning, May 11, 2022.

The assassination of Palestinian journalist Shireen, who also holds American citizenship, reveals a long record of systematic targeting by the Israeli occupation of Palestinian journalists and their workplaces.

Assassination, injury, and arrest are all weapons used by the Israeli occupation to cover up its crimes and violations against the Palestinians, without ever being prosecuted or convicted of any of these crimes, which are often fully documented.

It is noteworthy that as long as the Israeli occupation continues to operate with impunity and commit human rights violations without accountability from the international community, we will inevitably see more of what we saw today, according to Palestinian activists told Al-Estiklal.


Premeditated Execution

The killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh (51 years) at the hands of Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank has once again highlighted the high rate of Israeli attacks against Palestinian media professionals, and the relative impunity in which they work.

Al-Jazeera Media Network accused the Israeli occupation of deliberately killing its reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh, with a sniper's bullet in the head, and wounding one of its journalists, Ali al-Samoudi, with a bullet in the back.

In a statement published on its website, the network said: “In a tragic murder that violates international laws and norms, the Israeli occupation forces, in cold blood, murdered our reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh, and attempted to kill her producer, Ali al-Samoudi, who was targeted with her.”

Immediately, the Israeli propaganda was launched to try to obliterate their crime, by claiming that it was a Palestinian shooting that led to the killing of Abu Akleh.

But the video footage showed a group of journalists, including Abu Akleh, wearing helmets and protective jackets, which clearly indicates that they are journalists, and there is no one else in the place. However, suddenly they were shot, Shireen was hit with a direct shot in the face, and she fell to the ground, in what appeared to be a premeditated execution, according to her fellow journalists who were with her.

The early story of events by the Israeli army indicates, according to Palestinian journalists, that it is unlikely to hold its forces accountable for the killing of journalist Abu Akleh.

IDF Spokesman Avichai Adraee wrote on his Twitter account: “An investigation is underway into the possibility that those who shot the journalists were Palestinian gunmen.”

On the other hand, B'Tselem revealed through a video recording and using Google Maps that the Israeli documentation of the shooting by Palestinian gunmen could not be the reason behind the killing of journalist Abu Akleh because of the long distance between the two incidents.



In turn, Ismail Maslamani, a specialist in Israeli affairs, says in a statement to Al-Estiklal that “the truth is clear. Israel killed Shireen Abu Akleh. Her killing confirms to the world that the Israeli occupation has a hobby of killing without discrimination and in cold blood.”

Commenting on the fact that Abu Akleh's killing is considered a pivotal point in the history of the crimes of the occupation and pressure on the trial of Israeli war criminals, Mr. Maslamani says: “We do not need a local or international investigation. Neither the international courts nor the international community would dare punish the Israeli occupation.”

“Targeting journalists and preventing the transmission of a picture of what is happening in Palestine, specifically in Jenin camp, indicates that there is an Israeli fear of conveying the truth of what is happening there as if something is being planned to invade it and commit a massacre against its residents. But the interaction with the killing of Shireen covered all parts of the world, made the image of the occupation ugly, and brought back to our memory the moment of the killing of the Palestinian child, Muhammad al-Durra,” according to Mr. Maslamani.


Systematic Targeting

In the context of the wide reactions to the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian presidency held the Israeli government fully responsible for what it described as the heinous crime, emphasizing that it is part of a policy pursued by the occupation forces to obscure the truth in order to continue to commit crimes against the Palestinians in silence.

Meanwhile, the EU's spokesman in the Middle East Luis Bueno, and the US ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides expressed their sadness at the departure of Shireen Abu Akleh while performing her work, and called for an independent investigation.

In turn, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the deliberate targeting of journalist Shireen and pledged to add her to the case before the International Criminal Court (ICC), which details the systematic Israeli targeting of Palestinian journalists.



“Abu Akle's killing constitutes a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions, which provide for the protection of civilians, and of UN Security Council Resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists,” Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General, and Director-General of Reporters Without Borders wrote on Twitter.



Agnes Callamard, Secretary General at Amnesty International, wrote on Twitter, “Israel kills Palestinians with impunity. The international community must act to end Israel's apartheid.”



In turn, Omar Shakir, Director of Human Rights Watch in Israel and Palestine, emphasized that “the killing was part of a systematic policy by the Israelis towards journalists who cover the events of the occupation.”



On her part, US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib commented on the incident, saying: “Journalist Sherine Abu Akleh was murdered by a government that receives unconditional funding from our country, and without any accountability.”




A Track Record of Attacks

Al-Jazeera journalists are not the only ones who have fallen victim to the Israeli targeting, but the record of the Israeli forces is replete with systematic attacks on journalists and media workers, in addition, Israeli warplanes targeted a number of media headquarters in the Gaza Strip.

According to a report published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 25, more than 144 journalists, both Palestinian and foreign, were subjected to attacks by the occupation army during their coverage of events in occupied Palestine during the past four years.

These attacks included shooting journalists, throwing tear gas and sound bombs, hitting them with sticks, and dragging them to the ground, which left severe injuries, most of which resulted in permanent disabilities, such as loss of limbs and eyes, and facial deformities.

An example of these attacks is the case of journalist Yousef al-Kronz, who lost his left leg while covering the events of the March of Return in 2018, in addition to the case of journalist Sami Misran, a worker at Al-Quds TV, who lost an eye after he was shot in 2019, as well as Anadolu Agency correspondent Ali Jadallah, who was targeted for the third time with a rubber bullet in the head.

Muath Amarneh, a Palestinian journalist, was working with other journalists in November 2019 near the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank when a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier targeted his left eye.

Amarneh won wide Arab and international solidarity, and millions of people in solidarity with him published pictures of them covering the left eye with a sticker or by hand, and voices were raised to punish the Israeli occupation for targeting journalists specifically, but this has not been achieved until today so that the Israeli attacks on journalists continue.

With the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, the number of Palestinian journalists killed by the Israeli army has risen to 86 since 1967, the year Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and to 55 journalists since 2000, according to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS).

Italian Associated Press journalist Simone Camilli and his Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were both killed by an Israeli air strike while covering Gaza in 2014.

Yaser Murtaja, a Palestinian journalist with a Gaza-based agency, was one of those victims, who was hit by Israeli bullets while doing his work on the Gaza Strip borders in 2018, and later died in hospital as a result of his injury.

The Israeli occupation snipers also directly and deliberately targeted the Palestinian journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein during his coverage of the Great March of Return in April 2018 in the Gaza Strip, in a crime similar to what Shireen Abu Akleh was subjected to.

During the year 2021, The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) documented about 368 Israeli violations against journalists, including 155 direct violations (wounded and killed).

It also recorded more than 100 Israeli violations against journalists since the beginning of 2022, most of them during the month of April, and focused on journalists in occupied Jerusalem and Jenin camp during their coverage of events.

It should be noted that detention for the purpose of intimidation is a weapon used by the Israeli occupation against journalists as well, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, 16 journalists are imprisoned in the occupation’s prisons, among them is journalist Mahmoud Issa, who has been detained since 1993, and journalist Bushra al-Taweel, who has been arrested 6 times during the past years.

In addition to these attacks, the Israeli aggression on Gaza during the year 2021 witnessed the Israeli Air Force raids on 33 media headquarters, most notably the Qatari Al-Jazeera network and the American Associated Press.

On May 15, 2021, four Israeli missiles targeted al-Jalaa Tower on Omar al-Mukhtar Street in Gaza, which houses the headquarters of a number of international and local media.

Before that, Israeli warplanes also targeted al-Shorouk Tower, located in the same neighborhood, which includes the headquarters of 15 media outlets, most notably Russia Today, German TV ZDF, and Dubai TV.

In late April, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), and the International Center of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) announced that they had submitted a complaint to the ICC, accusing ‘Israel’ of committing war crimes against journalists in the Palestinian territories.

The ICC’s Prosecutor’s Office in the Palestinian Territories acknowledged receiving the complaint officially on April 25, related to Israeli forces committing war crimes against journalists, which could lead to an official investigation and trial, according to the statement issued by the IFJ.

In December 2020, the IFJ and the PJS had also submitted complaints to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs (UNSR) regarding the systematic Israeli targeting of journalists working in Palestine, noting that it is a violation of international humanitarian law, and may amount to war crimes.

That complaint raised broader issues affecting journalists working in Palestine, including discrimination, violations of freedom of movement, and restrictions on press accreditation.

However, in light of the actions of the occupation forces as if they were beyond accountability, the systematic targeting of journalists continued, and so far no accountability for their violations has been achieved.





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Israeli killing of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh sparks outrage


Abu Akleh’s killing highlights Israeli attacks on journalists


Israel-Palestine: Four years of violence against Palestinian journalists covering “March of Return” protests


‘MADA’ condemns the murder of journalist “ABU AKLEH” and calls for those responsible to be held accountable


‘MADA’: 562 Violations of Media Freedom in Palestine during 2021


Palestine: ICC case filed over systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists


Palestine: New call for UN to speak out on Israeli targeting of journalists

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al-jazeera israeli attacks israeli occupation israeli targeting of journalists palestine palestinian journalists shireen abu akleh