Wednesday May 11, 2022
Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – Israeli forces have shot dead
Al Jazeera’s journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank, according
to the Palestinian health ministry.
Abu Akleh, a longtime TV correspondent for Al Jazeera
Arabic, was killed on Wednesday while covering Israeli army raids in the city
of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.
She was rushed to a hospital in Jenin in critical condition,
where she was declared dead shortly after, at 7:15am (4:15 GMT), according to
the ministry and Al Jazeera journalists.
Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest and was standing with
other journalists when she was killed.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was also
wounded by a bullet in the back at the scene. He is now in stable condition.
The head of the medicine department at al-Najah University
in Nablus confirmed that Abu Akleh was shot in the head. He said that her body
was transferred for an autopsy based on an order from the public prosecution.
Abu Akleh’s body was carried out of the university coated in
a Palestinian flag, after which she will be taken to the Istishari Hospital in
An official funeral will be held for her tomorrow morning at
the Palestinian presidency headquarters in Ramallah.
Al-Samoudi and other journalists at the scene said there
were no Palestinian fighters present when the journalists were shot, directly
disputing an Israeli statement referencing the possibility that it was
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and
suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” said
“The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen …
there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene.”
Shatha Hanaysha, a local journalist who was standing next to
Abu Akleh when she was shot, also told Al Jazeera that there had been no confrontations
between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army. She said the group of
journalists had been directly targeted.
“We were four journalists, we were all wearing vests, all
wearing helmets,” Hanaysha said. “The [Israeli] occupation army did not stop
firing even after she collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her
because of the shots being fired. The army was adamant on shooting to kill.”
The details of Abu Akleh’s killing are still emerging, but
videos of the incident show that she was shot in the head, said Al Jazeera’s
“What we know for now is that the Palestinian health
ministry has announced her death. Shireen Abu Akleh was covering the events
unfolding in Jenin, specifically, an Israeli raid on the city, which is north
of the occupied West Bank, when she was hit by a bullet to the head,” Ibrahim
said, speaking from the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
In her last email to the network, Abu Akleh sent a message
to Al Jazeera’s Ramallah bureau at 6:13am (3:13 GMT) in which she wrote:
“Occupation forces storm Jenin and besiege a house in the Jabriyat
neighbourhood. On the way there – I will bring you news as soon as the picture
Separately on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, the
Palestinian health ministry said an 18 year old Palestinian, Thaer
Mislet-Yazouri, was shot dead by Israeli forces in the town of al-Bireh, near
the illegal settlement of Psagot.
Shock and grief
Abu Akleh, who was a dual Palestinian-American national, was
one of Al Jazeera’s first field correspondents, joining the network in 1997.
Grief and sorrow filled the Al Jazeera offices in downtown
Ramallah as the news quickly spread and dozens of colleagues, fellow
journalists, friends, and Palestinian figures poured in, including Palestinian
politicians Hanan Ashrawi and Khalida Jarrar.
Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar said that Abu Akleh was the
voice of Palestinians and was killed by “the monstrosity of Israeli colonialism
“Shireen was always my voice from the prison cells,” Jarrar
told Al Jazeera, adding that a month into her last detention by Israel, Shireen
was the first person she saw at her court hearings.
“Shireen was our voice. It is unbelievable. It is a crime,
it is all clear – intentional and direct targeting. She was targeted. It’s
clear,” said Jarrar.
The Palestinian presidency condemned the killing, saying in
a statement that it holds the Israeli occupation responsible.
Palestinian Authority (PA) government spokesperson Ibrahim
Melhem described it as a “comprehensive crime committed against a well-known
“The killing was deliberate… There will be an autopsy by
Palestinian medics, which will be followed by a report including all the
details of the killing,” Melhem told Al Jazeera.
“However, all the witnesses present at the scene of the
crime ensures that it was an Israeli sniper that committed the crime in a
Yair Lapid, the Israeli foreign minister, said Tel Aviv was
offering a “joint pathological investigation” into Abu Akleh’s “sad death”. He
added that “journalists must be protected in conflict zones”.
One of Abu Akleh’s former colleagues, Mohammad Hawwash, who
knew her for more than 25 years, said she was a “real journalist”.
“Shereen was a professional and unbiased journalist who
conveyed the reality and events as they are,” Hawwash, 70, told Al Jazeera.
Palestine TV correspondent Christine Rinawi, who was often
with Abu Akleh in the field in Jerusalem, said the late reporter was a
“professor in the world of journalism.”
“We would meet for hours in the field, we would be arrested
together, we were wounded together. Shireen was a message throughout all her
journalistic life, and even in her martyrdom, she is a message,” Rinawi told Al
“This is a sad day, a black day. There are no words to
explain the pain that we are all going through,” she added.
The Israeli military said its soldiers had come under attack
with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired
back. It added that it was “investigating the event”.
Al Jazeera’s offices in the Gaza Strip, in a building that
also housed the Associated Press, were bombed by Israeli forces during an
offensive a year ago, and Palestinian and international journalists say they
have been regularly targeted by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and
occupied East Jerusalem.
Many in Palestine and abroad took to social media to express
their shock and grief.
“Israeli occupation forces assassinated our beloved
journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering their brutality in Jenin this
morning. Shireen was most prominent Palestinian journalist and a close friend,”
wrote Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Those who knew her described her as brave, kind and a voice
for the Palestinians.
“Shireen was a brave, kind and high integrity journalist
that I and millions of Palestinians grew up watching,” wrote Fadi Quran, an
activist at the campaign group, Avaaz.
“Horrified to hear of Israel’s killing of Al Jazeera
journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin! Shireen has boldly covered Israel’s
aggression in Palestine for over two decades,” wrote Huwaida Arraf, a
Palestinian-American activist and lawyer.
“In disbelief,” wrote Salem Barahmeh, a Palestinian
activist. “We grew up to her reporting on the second intifada. She was our
voice. Rest in power and peace. Another day, another tragedy.”
Giles Trendle, Al Jazeera’s managing director, said the
network was “shocked and saddened” by the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.
“We have had a history throughout the world but particularly
in this region, where we have had tragedies,” he said, calling for a
transparent investigation of the killing of Abu Akleh.
“As journalists, we carry on. Our mission is to carry on. We
will not be silenced,” said Trendle. “Our mission is always to carry on to
inform the world what is happening. And that is more important ever.”