A female correspondent for Al Jazeera was shot dead by Israel while covering a new raid in the West Bank
It was this Wednesday that Shireen Abu Aqla, a 51-year-old reporter for Al Jazeera, was shot “deliberately” by Israeli troops in Jenin, the media network said.
On that day, Abu Aqla was in the Jenin refugee camp to report on a new raid by Israel against Palestinians in the camp.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, Abu Aqla was hit in the head by a live bullet during the Israeli raid. She was then taken to hospital in a critical condition but couldn’t survive for more than two hours.
Israeli soldiers also shot another Palestinian journalist from Al Jazeera, Ali Samoudi. Samoudi was shot in the back but he could survive and is now in a stable condition in hospital.
“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,” Samoudi said in hospital, adding also that “there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene.”
The Israeli military said a day before the incident that the raid was legal because it was carried out to arrest terrorist suspects.
“During the activity, tens of Palestinian gunmen fired at and hurled explosive devices toward the soldiers. The soldiers responded with fire toward the gunmen and hits were identified,” the military statement said.
Denying the crime
Israeli officials didn’t confine themselves to denying the illegality of the raid. They also questioned the very fact of whether Abu Aqla was shot by Israeli forces at all.
In this regard, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said to reporters late Wednesday that it could have been “the Palestinians who shot her” or the fire from Israeli soldiers; “We are not certain how she was killed but we want to get to the bottom of this incident and to uncover the truth as much as we can,” Gantz told reporters.
These words in fact echoed what Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had said a few hours before, asserting that the reporter was “likely” killed by Palestinian gunfire.
However, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem later discarded what Bennet claimed. The group said that according to its researchers, the Palestinian gunfire could not possibly have been the gunfire that hit Abu Aqla.
The killing was met with strong criticism in and out of Palestine.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for example, said that he sees the Israeli government fully responsible for what he described as a “crime of execution”.
US state department spokesman Ned Price also condemned the incident, saying it was “heartbroken by and strongly condemn the killing” of Abu Aqla; “The investigation must be immediate and thorough and those responsible must be held accountable.” Price noted this Wednesday.
Also in reaction to Abu Aqla’s killing, hundreds of Palestinians and Arab Israelis protested on Thursday. They held rallies in East Jerusalem, Haifa and Nazareth.
This is not the first time a Palestinian Journalist is killed by the Israeli police force. In a statement by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Israel has killed more than 46 Palestinian journalists since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.
“The Syndicate counts annually between 500 and 700 [Israeli] occupation attacks and crimes against Palestinian journalists and it is time for these crimes to stop.” Tahseen al-Astal, the deputy head of the Syndicate, said in the statement.