The Murder of Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
The Murder of Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
The Murder of Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Israeli soldiers pulled the trigger but it is the United States, Britain, France and Germany who are equally culpable
Yesterday an ‘elite’ unit of the Israeli Army deliberately and in cold blood murdered Al Jazeera’s Palestinian/American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh.
The level of outrage over Israel’s murder of Shireen is of course welcome but much of it is nonetheless hypocritical. The Israeli state has given its military a licence to kill anything that moves in Jenin refugee camp. They have been shooting innocent civilians in Jenin for 3 weeks now without a murmur from Biden and the US Administration.
Breaches of human rights in Ukraine are a war crime. In Palestine they are an unnecessary luxury. Below are 2 articles. One is an excellent forensic article by Richard Silverstein calling out the lies of Israeli Prime Minister Bennett and the Zionist lobby. The second is an article by Gideon Levy in today’s Ha’aretz.
Levy is right. Who protested when snipers mowed down hundreds of innocent participants in the Great Return march in Gaza? Why were there no calls for sanctions when Nizar al Najar, a 21 year old Palestinian medic was murdered?
Of course Israel will deflect because that is what the blood drenched Israeli state and Zionism always does. It first pretended that the murder of Shireen was by the Palestinians themselves. Blaming the victims has always been a colonial habit and Israel is no different from the United States in that respect.
Realising that the evidence was too damning they have now admitted it was carried out by an ‘elite’ unit.
Israel initially said that they had offered the quisling Palestinian Authority to hold a joint investigation. Except that they ‘forgot’ to tell the PA!
Of one thing we can be sure. No Israeli soldier will be held accountable or see the inside of a gaol. After all they had been given a licence to kill – whether it was journalists or children.
I received the messages below yesterday and today from the Al Tafawk Children’s Centre which Israeli troops raided and destroyed a year ago. It is situated in the middle of the Jenin refugee camp.
Children being collected by car were shot at by the Israeli military a day ago yet politicians in this country – Boris Johnson and the ever more pathetic Starmer – stay silent or talk about Israel as a ‘democratic’ state. We supply Israel with weaponry and equally importantly the moral and political justifications for these actions. That is why we are equally guilty as those who pulled the trigger.
I am so sorry to share this terrible news ! Other child form the center has been shot t while he was going to take his treatment in Jerusalem today.
Ali is 6 years old has cancer .He goes to Jarusalem every month…
Please share his story he is so poor kid without father .. We relay on you to save our children
He was going in the early morning to Jerusalem to have his treatment as he is sick of cancer and the Israel military shot at the car he was inside… his condition is ok now ! But he is so scared..
These actions are increasing these days.. I wish the news could share this as they share what is going on in the other side !
JENIN under attack! We were collecting Children when the military shot Shereen ! They knew that this time children where going to schools! I hope we do not lose more children and people.
They shot us while me and my father were picking up the children by our car even they knew there where children inside
Killing children is an Israeli sport. 2 weeks ago a 15 year old boy Mohammed was blinded in one eye by these thugs in uniform. Yet Labour MPs keep their mouths shut for fear that Starmer might deprive them of their seats for speaking out. The British political establishment is a despicable accomplice in what happened in Jenin with the murder of Shireen.
Oh, the lies. They pour freely forth from the mouths of Israeli leaders and army officers.
The IDF was in the midst of an operation to kidnap Palestinians suspected of militant activities in Jenin. Several Palestinian journalists were on the scene to cover the operation. Four of them were gathered together. They were nowhere near any firing or conflict. They stood by themselves and were clearly identified by the Press vests and helmets they wore. Shireen Abu-Akleh was shot in the head:
Another Al Jazeera journalist, Ali Samoudi, was also wounded after being shot in the back. He is now in a stable condition, and said that there were no Palestinian fighters present when the journalists were shot, directly disputing an Israeli statement that referenced the possibility.
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” said Samoudi. “The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen … there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene.”
Shatha Hanaysha, a Palestinian journalist who was present next to Abu Akleh when she was shot, also told Al Jazeera that ‘there had been no confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army, and said that the group of journalists had been targeted.’
“We were four journalists, we were all wearing vests, all wearing helmets,” Hanaysha said. “The [Israeli] occupation army did not stop firing even after she collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots. The army was adamant on shooting to kill.”
• A group of journalists arrived at the edge of Jenin refugee camp, Shireen and colleagues, including Al-Smodi and Hanaysheh, they were wearing flak jackets and helmets, and kept themselves together as an obvious group;
• At that moment, there were neither clashes nor shooting from any side, even there were no protests or throwing stones, there were nothing;
• Three gunshots were shot by Israeli soldiers, the first missed Ali, the second one hit him in his shoulder, Shireen shouted “Ali has been wounded”
• The third gunshot directly hit Shireen in the head (beneath her ear), fell to the ground under a tree;
• Journalists could not rescue her because shooting continued for more than three minutes from the same Israeli side.
• Shireen was evacuated to hospital with a private vehicle because the Israeli soldiers prevented ambulances from at arriving the scene.
Al Jazeera said in a statement that the Israeli military “assassinated Abu Akleh in cold blood,” and called on the international community to condemn her killing and hold Israel accountable.
“We commit to take legal action against those responsible and bring them to justice,” the news outlet said.
Good luck to them. The AP made the same vow after the IAF destroyed its offices in a Gaza residential tower felled by missile strikes. It’s still waiting for an answer to this indiscriminate attack on journalism.
In the past, the IDF has murdered journalists in Gaza. But it has never murdered any in the West Bank; certainly not a journalist for a foreign news outlet; and it has even more certainly never murdered an American citizen who is a practicing journalist. This is an IDF trifecta.
Let’s make something very clear. The bullet fired by the IDF sniper was a kill shot. It entered her neck and exited her face. Snipers don’t strike victims in the head unless intending to kill. Why would they murder her? Because she was the face of Palestine on the most popular Arab media outlet. In fact, Palestinian journalists tell how during the Second Intifada soldiers would take to bullhorns and use Shireen’s on air sign-off as if to taunt the Palestinians and her. So it’s not at all unlikely she was assassinated, or as Al Jazeera said above, “executed.” This is Israel’s way of getting rid of what an English king said of Thomas a Beckett: “will someone not rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Shireen was Israel’s meddlesome reporter, and now it is rid of her.
It’s difficult to tell whether this is more of the same from an army that doesn’t care to discriminate between civilians, militants and journalists, killing them all indiscriminately; or whether this is a military sinking into a new depth of depravity, deliberately targeting journalists for murder. Either way, this killing places it in the company of other authoritarian regimes which murder their citizen journalists with impunity: Putin’s Russia is right up there at the top of the list. Following closely behind are Sri Lanka, Mexico, and Syria. Next time you hear anyone talk of Israel’s freedom of the press, ask about Shireen. What sort of “freedom” does she enjoy? Freedom to die with her Press vest displayed across her chest?
Israeli officials have shamelessly claimed that Shireen was caught in a crossfire:
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that, according to Israeli information, “it appears likely that armed Palestinians — who were indiscriminately firing at the time — were responsible.”
…Israeli military officials said at a briefing with reporters earlier that Abu Akleh’s death is “a very tragic incident” and claimed she was likely killed by “indiscriminate [gun]fire by Palestinian militants.”
In a statement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the shooting occurred while the Israel Defense Forces were conducting counterterrorism operations in Jenin, after a spate of deadly attacks over the past few weeks in Israeli cities. During the operation, he said, “armed Palestinians shot in an inaccurate, indiscriminate and uncontrolled manner.”
“Our forces from the IDF returned fire as accurately, carefully and responsibly as possible. Sadly, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in the exchange,” he said. “To uncover the truth, there must be a real investigation, and the Palestinians are currently preventing that. Without a serious investigation, we will not reach the truth.”
This is a tissue of lies. The IDF never does a “real investigation.” This meaningless rhetoric is fodder for foreign consumption, meant to mollify those who actually believe in the rule of law and accountability. Israel does a calculation of how much damage an incident will do to its interests. There are no humane or even legal considerations.
There is a concept common among Yiddish speakers called rochmonis (“mercy” or empathy). Israel does not have this capacity, though it does reserve it for Israeli Jews. It doesn’t even have it for Diaspora Jews, though they do merit slightly more consideration. Israel is a hard country. Mercy and empathy are in short supply. Of course, there are historic and psychological reasons for this. But history cannot justify the cold, hard calculating practices of the Israeli state and its representatives in this and many similar cases.
Here is another statement released by an anonymous Israeli source to the Post:
A senior Israeli official, in a statement sent to reporters, said that the Army’s assessment was based on evidence that included video footage in which a gunman is heard saying in Arabic, “We hit a soldier, he’s on the ground.” The Israeli military said that no Israeli soldiers were injured during clashes in Jenin on Wednesday and that the Palestinians in the video may have been referring to Abu Akleh.
This claim makes a laughingstock of whichever idiot released it. So an unsourced video, filmed in an unspecified location, at an unspecified time, featuring unspecified individuals (but not Shireen) offers definitive proof that she was killed either by Palestinian gunmen or in a crossfire? I’m sorry but this is more obfuscation designed to confuse the public. It shows desperation and a calculated attempt to offer so many conflicting narratives that everyone will forget the most credible one offered by multiple eyewitnesses. It’s a common tactic of crisis management, when you have nothing good to offer.
I suppose we’re lucky they didn’t accuse her of taking the soldier’s gun and killing herself. Justice minister Gideon Saar had the chutzpah to call the accusations of murder against the IDF a “blood libel.” I suppose the IDF soldiers weren’t firing bullets but flowers or candy; and somehow she died of a sugar overdose.
The IDF complained that the Palestinians had taken her body and were “refusing” its offer of “a joint investigation” of the incident:
Israeli military spokesperson Gen. Ran Kokhav told army radio that Palestinian officials had taken Abu Akleh’s body and refused to hold a joint pathological investigation into her death.
Palestinian officials have rightly refused. What does Israel want to investigate? It knows what happened. It knows who killed her. It knows why they killed her. They don’t need her body to figure that out. What Israel wants is a way to discredit the findings, seeking to offload guilt onto anyone but themselves.
Naftali Bennett has once again gotten himself into a fine mess. Just as things were cooling down and Abbas Mansour was about to announce at a press conference that his Islamist Ra’am Party would rejoin the coalition, someone comes along and puts a bullet into a Palestinian woman’s head. What a way to spoil the Party.
Another irony is that the West Bank military operation was designed to assuage those calling for the murder of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. The army offered Bennett an alternative: a sweep through the West Bank arresting hundreds of the usual suspects, just to show that the army was doing something to fight Palestinian terror. Now, instead of putting a security feather in his cap, Bennett is dripping in a journalist’s blood.
Of course, no one in Israel cares about this woman. She was a Palestinian first of all. She was a journalist second of all. And a journalist working for an Arab news outlet. She came up short on the empathy meter on all counts. But Israel must be seen to care. It has already announced a full-fledged investigation. That’s for the benefit of the Biden administration, since it too must be seen to care for a US citizen:
Tom Nides, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, confirmed Shireen Abu Akleh was a Palestinian American citizen and called for “a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death,” as Palestinian and Israeli officials gave conflicting accounts of what happened to the veteran reporter.
But Biden could care less about Abu-Akleh, citizen or no citizen. She is an inconvenient distraction from other far more pressing matters like Ukraine or North Korean ballistic missile tests. Here’s how little we care. This is what the State Department said after the murder of another American citizen of Palestinian descent:
We are complicit. We don’t hold Israeli accountable. We literally let it get away with murder. Shireen’s murder is our shame as Americans.
The relative horror expressed over the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh is justified and necessary. It is also belated and self-righteous. Now you’re appalled? The blood of a famous journalist, no matter how brave and experienced she was – and she was – is no redder than the blood of an anonymous high school student who was traveling home in a taxi full of women in this same Jenin a month ago when she was killed by gunfire from Israeli soldiers.
That is how Hanan Khadour was killed. Then, too, the military spokesman tried to cast doubt on the shooters’ identity: “The matter is being examined.” A month has passed, and this “examination” has yielded nothing, and never will – but the doubts were planted, and they sprouted in the Israeli fields of denial and suppression, where no one actually cares about the fate of a 19-year-old Palestinian girl, and the country’s dead conscience is silenced again. Is there a single crime committed by the military that the right and the establishment will ever accept responsibility for? Just one?
Abu Akleh seems to be another story: an internationally known journalist. Just this past Sunday a more local journalist, Basel al-Adra, was attacked by Israeli soldiers in the South Hebron Hills, and no one cared. And a couple days ago, two Israelis who attacked journalists during the Gaza war last May were sentenced to 22 months in prison. What punishment will be meted out to soldiers who killed, if indeed they did, Abu Akleh? And what punishment was given to whoever decided on and carried out the despicable bombing of the Associated Press offices in Gaza during the fighting last year? Has anyone paid for this crime? And what about the 13 journalists who were killed during the Gaza war in 2014? And the medical personnel who were killed during demonstrations at the Gaza border fence, including 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar, who was shot dead by soldiers while wearing her white uniform? No one has been punished. Such things will always be covered by a cloud of blind justification and automatic immunity for the military and worship of its soldiers.
Even if the smoking Israeli bullet that killed Abu Akleh is found, and even if footage is found that shows the face of the shooter, he will be treated by Israelis as a hero who is above all suspicion. It’s tempting to write that if innocent Palestinians must be killed by Israeli soldiers, better for them to be well-known and holders of U.S. passports, like Abu Akleh. At least then the U.S. State Department will voice a little displeasure – but not too much – about the senseless killing of one of its citizens by the soldiers of one of its allies.
At the time of writing, it was still unclear who killed Abu Akleh. This is Israel’s propaganda achievement – sowing doubts, which Israelis are quick to grab onto as fact and justification, though the world does not believe them and is usually correct. When the young Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura was killed in 2000, Israeli propaganda also tried to blur the identity of his killers; it never proved its claims, and no one bought them. Past experience shows that the soldiers who killed the young woman in a taxi are the same soldiers who might kill a journalist. It’s the same spirit; they are permitted to shoot as they please. Those who weren’t punished for Hanan’s killing continued with Shireen.
But the crime begins long before the shooting. The crime starts with the raiding of every town, refugee camp, village and bedroom in the West Bank every night, when necessary but mainly when not necessary. The military correspondents will always say that this was done for the sake of “arresting suspects,” without specifying which suspects and what they’re suspected of, and resistance to these incursions will always be seen as “a breach of order” – the order in which the military can do as it pleases and the Palestinians cannot do anything, certainly not show any resistance.
Abu Akleh died a hero, doing her job. She was a braver journalist than all Israeli journalists put together. She went to Jenin, and many other occupied places, where they have rarely if ever visited, and now they must bow their heads in respect and mourning. They also should have stopped spreading the propaganda spread by the military and government regarding the identity of her killers. Until proven otherwise, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the default conclusion must be: the Israeli military killed Shireen Abu Akleh.