On the first anniversary of her death, activists from Justice for Palestine held a candlelight vigil outside the Israeli Embassy for the Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh.
Shireen was a highly respected journalist who won many awards and was recognised worldwide for the quality of her news coverage. Known as the Voice of Palestine she was loved by her colleagues and by the Palestinian people. She bore witness to, and reported on, the daily indignities of life under military occupation.
A year ago today, Israeli forces shot and killed Shireen while on assignment at the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. She wore a clearly marked press vest and helmet and was standing with other journalists. First hand accounts, and video evidence, proved there was no active firefight in the area.
Initially, Israeli officials said Abu Akleh was “most likely” hit by a Palestinian gunman during crossfire. Later, Israeli Defence Forces admitted there was a “high probability” one of its soldiers fired the bullet. One year later, no Israeli soldier has been charged or otherwise held responsible.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Information, Israeli forces have killed at least 44 journalists since 2000. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists investigated 20 cases of reporters killed by Israeli military fire since 2001. They found close similarities in official responses to each allegation, including the initial denial of evidence and that no one has been charged or held accountable for any of the deaths.
The world was shocked at news coverage of Shireen’s funeral procession when Israeli police assaulted mourners. Images showed her coffin almost falling to the ground as baton-wielding police waded into the crowd striking the pallbearers.
In December last year a legal team appointed by Al Jazeera referred her killing to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
In response, the outgoing Israeli Prime Minster, Yair Lapid said, “No one will investigate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al Jazeera”.
Journalism is not a crime. It is unacceptable that one year later, no one has been held accountable for the deliberate killing of Shireen Abu Akleh or the subsequent Israeli police assaults on her funeral procession.
This anniversary is an opportunity for our politicians to step up, speak out and condemn Israel’s refusal to investigate its defence forces. And its refusal to recognise the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In the audio below Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha reads “The journalist In Jenin“
Al Jazeera (May, 2023) Hundreds commemorate Shireen Abu Akleh in memorial mass. https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2023/5/7/photos-hundreds-commemorate-shireen-abu-akleh-in-memorial-mass
Al Jazeera (August 2022). How journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has been honoured. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/8/18/infographic-how-shireen-abu-akleh-has-been-honoured
Al Jazeera (May, 2022) Shireen Abu Akleh and the journalists killed by Israeli forces. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/12/infographic-the-journalists-killed-by-israeli-forces-since-2000
BBC (May, 2022). Shireen Abu Aqla: Violence at Al Jazeera reporter’s funeral in Jerusalem https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-61437601
CNN (May, 2022). New evidence suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces https://edition.cnn.com/2022/05/24/middleeast/shireen-abu-akleh-jenin-killing-investigation-cmd-intl/index.html
Committee to Protect Journalists (May, 2023). Deadly Pattern: 20 journalists died by Israeli military fire in 22 years. No one has been held accountable. https://cpj.org/reports/2023/05/deadly-pattern-20-journalists-died-by-israeli-military-fire-in-22-years-no-one-has-been-held-accountable/
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