(Jenin) Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, one of the best-known of the pan-Arab channel Al Jazeera, was shot and killed on Wednesday morning while covering an Israeli army operation in a tense area of the occupied West Bank .
Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of “deliberately” and “cold blooded” killing its star journalist, who was shot in the head, while Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that she was “probably” killed by gunfire from Palestinian fighters on the sidelines of clashes in the Jenin camp.
An AFP photographer in Jenin reported Israeli army fire and saw the body of the reporter who was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest with the word “press” written on it. This photographer said he did not see any Palestinian militiamen near the scene where the journalist was killed.
Another journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, injured in the clashes, accused the Israeli army of opening fire on the journalists. “We were on our way to cover the army operation when they opened fire on us […] A bullet hit me. The second bullet hit Shireen,” he said.
Shireen Abu Akleh “went around in a panic” when her colleague Ali al-Samoudi was shot, and then she herself was shot in the back of the head, Majid Awais told AFP. witness to the scene.
The Israeli army said it carried out operations in the Palestinian camp of Jenin, in order to “apprehend” an Islamist fighter. “During these counterterrorism activities in the Palestinian camp in Jenin, dozens of Palestinian gunmen opened fire and threw explosive objects at the Israeli forces, threatening their lives. The soldiers responded. People have been hit,” the IDF said.
“It seems likely that armed Palestinians, who opened fire indiscriminately at this time, were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist,” added Bennett, while the Ministry of Defense indicated “that it there had been no (army) shooting towards the journalist”, according to a “preliminary investigation”.
Palestinian, Christian, in her fifties and also an American national, Shireen Abu Akleh had worked at La Voix de la Palestine, Radio Monte-Carlo, before joining the al-Jazeera channel, where she known across the Middle East for reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On Wednesday, Palestinians laid flowers on the side of the road as the car carrying his remains passed through the northern occupied West Bank, an AFP journalist noted. And a black flag was raised at Al Jazeera’s office in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, in memory of Shireen Abu Akleh, the seventh journalist killed in the Palestinian territory since 2018 according to Reporters Without Borders.
In a statement, Al Jazeera claimed that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed “in cold blood” and “deliberately” by Israeli forces.
“Al-Jazeera condemns this heinous crime, which aims to prevent the media from doing their job,” the Qatari channel said.
The Association of Foreign Press Reporters in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, FPA, said it was “horrified and shocked.”
Israel has offered the Palestinians a “joint investigation” into the journalist’s death, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, but the Palestinian government has called for an “international investigation”, its spokesperson told AFP. speech, Ibrahim Melhem.
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, meanwhile, called for a “thorough investigation” into the death of the “American-Palestinian” journalist, also condemned by the UN envoy to the Middle East , Tor Wennesland, and a number of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.
The death of Shireen Abu Akleh comes almost a year to the day after the destruction of the Jalaa tower, where the offices of the Qatari channel were located in the Gaza Strip, during an Israeli airstrike in the midst of the war between the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Jewish state.
A year after the war in Gaza, tension remains between the Jewish state and Hamas.
Since March 22, Israel has been the target of a series of attacks that have killed at least 18 people. In the aftermath, 31 Palestinians including assailants were killed in incidents, including a young man on Wednesday near Ramallah.