Shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh was deliberate
We are outraged by the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on May 11. Abu Akleh was covering an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin early in the morning, wearing a press vest and helmet, when she was shot in the face. Though, initially, the Israeli army did not miss a beat before claiming it was Palestinian gunmen who had killed the veteran reporter, the military chief has now backtracked to say that it is "unclear who fired the shot." Our outrage and condemnation towards this event are on two counts: For the deliberate execution of a fellow journalist, and for Israel's continued occupation and violence in Palestine.
Journalists present when Abu Akleh was shot have reportedly confirmed that it was indeed Israeli forces who were responsible for her death. This is despite Abu Akleh and her team donning flak vests clearly marked "press" and also making themselves known to Israeli forces in the area. While the cruel and indiscriminate violence against Palestinians is perpetual, the nature of this particular killing—that is, to shoot in the face a journalist on the job who was wearing a press vest and helmet—truly encapsulates the extent of Israel's determination to block any news that attempts to tell the Palestinian side of the story.
The recent Russia-Ukraine war has also shed new light on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The global outpouring of support and sympathy for Ukrainian refugees and victims of war is commendable and well-deserved. But we must wonder, for the umpteenth time, why even a fraction of the same has not been offered to the Palestinian people, who have been going through hell at the hands of Israeli forces for over five decades? Where are the open arms and supportive coverage for them? That race and religion play crucial roles in this discrimination, specifically by the West, is undeniable. Yet, Israeli violence in Palestine continues, as does the US military aid to the occupying state.
All we can now hope for is that Shireen Abu Akleh's death does not get lost in the crowd of the thousands of Palestinian killings before hers. An independent and unbiased investigation must be conducted to find out the exact circumstances of the murder. The fact that the Israeli forces can shoot dead a working journalist in broad daylight gives us an inkling of just how strongly backed the state is by the West. We continue to demand for the international community and human rights bodies to take off their blindfolds and rise to action in order to put an end to Israel's aggression towards the Palestinian people.