Murder of Palestinian-American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Loor Elbedour

While covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier while visibly wearing a press jacket. Abu Akleh has been reporting on the atrocities of the Israeli occupation of Palestine for over a decade. Beloved by many, her family and peers held vigils at the Capital and in Jerusalem.

Abu Akleh is not the first journalist to be murdered by Israeli Defense Snipers since the start of the occupation. Since 1948, over 19 journalists have died while reporting on crimes committed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) towards the Palestinians.

Prior to her murder, Abu Akleh and other Al-Jazeraa journalists stood wearing press vests ready to report on the military raid. When Abu Akleh was shot, her counterpart, Shatha Hanaysha, who witnessed the murder attempted to make her way over to Abu Akleh and aid her in any way. When detailing the events following Abu Akleh being shot, she says that the IDF, “did not stop firing even after [Abu Akleh ] collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots being fired.” She highlights that the army was “adamant on shooting to kill.”

The Israeli military has refused to investigate this case, saying that making IDF soldiers suspects creates opposition in Israeli society. Immediately after news of the murder broke out, they denied all claims blaming it on Palestinian fire. However, journalists at the scene during the time of Abu Aklehs murder, said that there were no Palestinian fighters present when Abu Akleh was shot. This directly disputed all official Israeli statements made referencing the possibility that the murder was a result of ongoing Palestinian fire.

To further ignite the tensions, on the day of Abu Aklehs funeral, as thousands of Palestinians gathered to carry Abu Aklehs casket, Israeli police attacked these mourners and began beating them. The police said that they were “forced to act,” because they felt threatened by the “nationalist incitement” occurring in what they believe is their capital city of Jerusalem.

An outpouring amount of grief and anger encouraged demonstrations demanding justice. From 1948 till present time, the Palestinian people, their culture and their land, continues to diminish as a result of the occupation. Even in Palestinian controlled areas, the Israeli government restricts their ability to attain resources to keep the Palestinian government away from becoming self-sufficient.

The murder of Shireen Abu Akleh should be a sign to countries allying with Israel to take into account the injustices the Israeli government commits against Palestinians daily. Tragedy in the Middle East should not be normalized, and as the world continues to push for global peace, this truly should be ensured and enforced globally.