JENIN: Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a respected veteran of the Al Jazeera network, was shot dead Wednesday as she covered a Zionist army raid in the occupied West Bank. The Qatar-based TV channel charged Zionist forces deliberately and “in cold blood” shot Abu Akleh, 51, in the head during the unrest in the Jenin refugee camp.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, producer Ali Al-Samudi, was wounded in the incident in which both wore helmets and vests marked “Press”. He later said no Palestinian fighters were nearby, stressing that otherwise “we would not have gone into the area”.
Kuwait condemned in the strongest terms the Zionist occupiers’ assassination of Abu Akleh and injuring her colleague, saying this heinous act violated international laws and norms. A statement by the foreign ministry held the Zionist occupiers responsible for this crime, which is contrary to freedom of speech and journalistic integrity, stressing the assassination is part of a long history of inhumane treatment perpetrated against the Palestinian people.
The international community must hold the Zionist occupying forces responsible for crimes committed against the Palestinian people, providing them with protection within the parameters of international and humanitarian laws, added the statement. The foreign ministry expressed Kuwait’s sincere condolences over the assassination of Abu Akleh and hoped for the swift recovery of her colleague involved in the Jenin incident.
An AFP photographer reported Zionist forces were firing in the area and that he then saw Abu Akleh’s body lying on the ground, with no Palestinian gunmen visible at the time. The Zionist army confirmed it had conducted its latest in a string of military operations in the flashpoint camp but firmly denied it had deliberately targeted a reporter.
Abu Akleh’s body was in Ramallah on Wednesday evening, where thousands were carried her remains around the West Bank city, chanting “thank you, dear Shireen”. In a sign of her prominence in the West Bank, residents laid flowers on the roadside as the vehicle carrying her body moved towards Nablus, where an autopsy was to be carried out before her burial in her native Jerusalem. Al Jazeera said in a statement that “the (Zionist) occupation forces assassinated in cold blood Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Palestine”. It urged the international community to hold Zionist forces accountable for the “intentional targeting and killing”.
The European Union urged an “independent” investigation into her death, while the United States’ envoy to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called for the killing to be “transparently investigated”. Asked about the Zionist entity’s openness to an international investigation, army spokesman Amnon Shefler said the military’s internal investigative systems were “robust” and that it would conduct its own probe. The Zionist entity has however publicly offered to participate in a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority.
Zionist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed it was “likely” that “armed Palestinians were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist”. Zionist Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the country was seeking a “joint pathological investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh”. “Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth.” Senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein Al-Sheikh said there had been no contact from the Zionist entity about any joint probe and held the Zionist entity “responsible” for Abu Akleh’s killing.
US ambassador to the Zionist entity Thomas Nides called for a “thorough investigation” into the killing of the US citizen, who joined Al Jazeera in 1997 and became a widely respected Palestinian voice in coverage of the conflict. The Zionist army has stepped up operations in Jenin, a historic flashpoint in the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, in recent weeks.
Witnesses in Jenin said Wednesday that the army had been targeting the home of an Islamist operative, with an apartment’s heavy metal door blown off its hinges. Majid Awais, a witness, told AFP that Abu Akleh “turned in panic” when she saw her colleague Samudi was shot and that she was struck by the fatal bullet moments later. Her death came nearly a year after a Zionist air strike destroyed a Gaza building that housed the offices of Al Jazeera and news agency AP. The Zionist entity has said the building also hosted offices used by key members of the Hamas Islamist group, which controls the Zionist-blockaded Gaza strip.
Tensions have risen in recent months as the Zionist entity has grappled with a wave of attacks which has killed at least 18 people since March 22, including an Arab police officer and two Ukrainians. A total of 31 Palestinians and three Arab citizens of the Zionist entity have died during the same period, according to an AFP tally. The latest Palestinian death was an 18-year-old killed by Zionist troops during clashes near Ramallah on Wednesday. The army said its forces had used rubber bullets to suppress unrest. The group Reporters Without Borders says seven journalists have been killed while reporting in the Palestinian territories since 2018.