Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh shot dead while covering Israeli military operation in West Bank.
Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist for Al Jazeera, was fatally shot on Wednesday while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin.
Her death was confirmed shortly after, according to the Palestinian health ministry, who said she was shot in the head by a live bullet. Ali Al-Samudi, Abu Akleh’s producer, was also shot and is in stable condition, according to the ministry.
Al Jazeera has accused Israeli security forces of deliberately targeting and killing Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, a prominent journalist in the Arab world, and has called on the international community to condemn the killing and hold Israel accountable.
Her death occurred under mysterious circumstances. According to three eyewitnesses, the journalists were shot by Israeli troops and that no Palestinian militants were present at the time.
“The Israeli army shot us,” Samudi, the injured producer, explained. “There was no Palestinian gunman in the place.”
The Israeli Defense Forces said its security forces were in the area “to arrest suspects in terrorist activities,” and that both Palestinians and Israeli forces were firing at the time.
“Suspects fired heavily at the force and threw explosives as part of the activity in the Jenin refugee camp. The force retaliated by opening fire. Hits were discovered “According to the IDF. “The possibility of journalists being hit by Palestinian gunfire is being looked into. The incident is being investigated.”
“Palestinians fired extensively at our forces, firing wildly and indiscriminately in every direction,” IDF Chief of Staff Major General Aviv Kochavi said in a subsequent statement. Unlike Palestinians, IDF soldiers fire in a professional and selective manner… at this point, it is impossible to say which shot hit her.”
Kochavi also stated that the incident would be investigated by a special team.
Following a series of attacks targeting Israelis that left 18 people dead, the Israeli military has increased its operations in the West Bank. Several of the attackers were Jenin residents.
Prior to Kochavi’s statement that determining who shot Shireen Abu Akleh was “not possible” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appeared to blame Palestinian crossfire.
“According to the information we’ve gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians — who were indiscriminately firing at the time — were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Wednesday.
A video released by Israeli officials, including the IDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shows a man firing down an alley and people running in the Jenin Refugee Camp, shouting about a soldier being shot.
“No IDF soldier was injured, which increases the possibility that Palestinian terrorists were the ones who shot the journalist,” Bennett said.
CNN has tracked down and verified multiple videos from the shooting scene. They show armed Palestinians and Israeli military firing in the streets nearby. While the videos clearly show that they were shot in the morning, CNN is unsure what date they were shot on or whether they were shot before or after the shooting of Abu Akleh.
When Shireen Abu Akleh was shot, video shows she was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest with the word “press” written on it.
Before she and Samudi were shot, another journalist covering Wednesday’s events in Jenin told CNN that Shireen Abu Akleh and other journalists made themselves known to Israeli forces in the area.
“I saw Shireen on the ground,” Mujahed al-Saadi, a journalist, said. “We attempted but failed to save Shireen.
He continued, “The occupation targeted Shireen while wearing a helmet, the injury was under the ear,” “Shireen fell while she was wearing press (gear) and even with that the people who tried to save her were shot at, the targeting was clear against Shireen and against us as journalistic teams.”
An investigation has been requested by the US ambassador to Israel.
Ambassador Tom Nides expressed his sadness over the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh of @AJArabic @AJEnglish. “I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death and the injury of at least one other journalist today in Jenin.”
Nides is married to CNN’s senior vice president of US newsgathering, Virginia Moseley.
“immediate and thorough” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who called for a “those responsible must be held accountable.” investigation into the killing.
Price tweeted on Wednesday, “We are heartbroken by and strongly condemn the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank,”
He went on to say, “Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere,”
Following the shooting, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced on Twitter that his government had offered to conduct a joint Israeli-Palestinian investigation, adding, “Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth.”
As word of Abu Akleh’s death spread, tributes began to pour in.
Nida Ibrahim, a colleague, described her as a “very well respected journalist.”
“As you can imagine, this is a shock to the journalists who have been working with her,” Ibrahim said, crying.
In a statement released by the Qatari foreign ministry, the Qatari foreign ministry condemned Abu Akleh’s death, accusing Israel of “assassinating” her.
According to a statement, “The State of Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli occupation forces…and the injury of Al Jazeera producer Ali Samoudi,”
“Qatar considers [this] a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and a blatant infringement on freedom of media…and the right of people to obtain information,” the statement continued.
Al Jazeera is partly funded by the Qatari government, and its headquarters are in Doha.
For over two and a half decades, Shireen Abu Akleh had been reporting on the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. According to Bir Zeit University, where she taught, she was born and raised in Jerusalem and came from a Christian family.
At the age of 26, she joined Al Jazeera when it was founded in 1997 and became the face of Palestinian coverage for millions of Arab households.
“Every house … inside Palestine or outside of Palestine, is mourning Shireen because she is our voice to the world,” Terry Bullata, an Abu Akleh friend and former classmate, said. “She is the voice of our occupied people’s suffering. She is the embodiment of our desire for liberty.”
“In difficult times, I overcame fear,” Abu Akleh said in a video posted on Al Jazeera YouTube earlier this year to commemorate the channel’s 25th anniversary. Although changing reality is difficult, at least I was able to bring that voice to the world.”