A journalist for Al Jazeera television was shot dead on Wednesday morning while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank town of Jenin. The network and a journalist injured in the incident blamed Israeli forces, while Israel said there was evidence the two had been shot by Palestinians.
Shireen Abu Akleha well-known Palestinian journalist for Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel and who was also a US citizen, was shot and died shortly afteradded the Ministry. Ali Samoudi, another Palestinian journalist, was hospitalized and in stable condition after being shot in the back.
Qatari television interrupted its broadcasts to announce his death. In a statement on his channel, called on the international community to “condemn and hold accountable the Israeli occupying forces for deliberately attacking and killing our colleague, Shireen Abu Akleh”.
“We promise to legally prosecute those responsible, no matter how hard they try to hide their crime, and bring them to justice,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.
The Israeli army said its forces had come under heavy fire and explosives during their operation in Jenin, and had returned fire. The army said it was “investigating the incident and checking the possibility that the journalists were hit by Palestinian gunmen.”
The international spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, Amnon Shefler lamented “the tragic death of the journalist” and assured that his country offered to carry out jointly with the Palestinian authorities to determine the causes of death..
“This is an unfortunate event and we are committed to getting to the truth”he said, while expressing his condolences.
“We are going to examine the incident. We are involved in this matter and we are going to take part in this process, ”she specified in a virtual conference with international journalists.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennettsaid that based on the information gathered so far, “There is a considerable possibility that armed Palestinians, who fired uncontrollably, were the ones who caused the unfortunate death of the journalist”.
Israeli authorities pointed to a video showing Palestinian gunmen running through narrow streets, in which one man said a soldier had been wounded. Authorities said no Israelis had been injured in the incident, suggesting that a journalist had been shot.
In another video posted by Al Jazeera, gunshots could be heard in an open space. Abu Akleh appeared on the ground at the side of the road as another journalist crouched nearby and a man yelled for an ambulance. It was not clear if the two videos were recorded in the same place. The two journalists wore blue jackets that clearly read “PRESS”.
Israel said it had proposed a joint investigation and autopsy with the Palestinian Authority, which rejected the offer.
The Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security matters, condemned what it described as a “scandalous crime” committed by Israeli forces.
Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem. He began working for Al Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported on camera from the Palestinian territories.
Samoudi, who worked as his producer, told Associated Press who were among a group of seven journalists who came to cover the raid on Wednesday morning. They all wore protective gear that clearly identified them as reporters.he explained, and walked past the Israeli troops so that the soldiers would see them and know they were there.
The first shot passed close to them, he noted. The second caught up with him and the third killed Abu Akleh. Samoudi said there were no militants or other civilians in the area, only reporters and the army.
Shaza Hanaysheha reporter for a Palestinian news website who was also among the journalists present, made a similar description in an interview with Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel, saying there were no clashes or shots fired in the area.
When they heard gunshots, she explained, she and Abu Akleh ran into a tree for cover.
The American ambassador to Israel, Tom Nidessaid he was “very sad” after learning of the reporter’s death and called for a “thorough investigation”. He also confirmed that Abu Akleh had US citizenship.
Israel has carried out almost daily raids in the West Bank in recent weeks amid a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, many of them carried out by Palestinians from Jenin. and surroundings. The town, and specifically its refugee camp, has been a well-known militia stronghold for years.
IIsrael captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War and the Palestinians claim the territory as a major part of a future state. Nearly 3 million Palestinians live there under Israeli military control. Israel has built more than 130 settlements in the West Bank where almost 500,000 Jewish settlers live, who have full Israeli citizenship.
Israelis have been critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage for years, though in general the authorities allow their journalists to operate freely. Another Al Jazeera journalist, Givara Budeiri, was briefly detained last year during a protest in Jerusalem and treated for a broken hand, which her employer blamed on harsh treatment by the police.
(With information from AP)
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