An Al-Jazeera journalist was shot dead early Wednesday while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
t said that Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian reporter for the station’s Arabic-language channel, was shot and died shortly thereafter. Another Palestinian journalist working for the Jerusalem-based newspaper Al-Quds was wounded but is in stable condition.
The Qatar-based broadcaster blamed Israel. In a statement posted on her channel, she called on the international community to “condemn and hold accountable the Israeli occupying forces for deliberately attacking and killing our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh.”
Video footage of the incident shows Abu Akleh wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word “PRESS”.
The Israeli military said its forces came under heavy gunfire and explosives during the Jenin operation and fired back. The military said it was “investigating the incident and considering the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”
An injured journalist is hugged by a colleague of Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist with the Al Jazeera network, in the West Bank hospital city of Jenin. Image: AP
Israel has been conducting raids in the occupied West Bank on an almost daily basis for the past few weeks amid a spate of deadly attacks inside Israel, many perpetrated by Palestinians in and around Jenin. The city, and particularly its refugee camp, has long been known as a militant bastion.
Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War, and the Palestinians want the area to form the bulk of their future state. Nearly 3 million Palestinians live in the area under Israeli military rule. Israel has built more than 130 settlements across the West Bank, home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers who hold full Israeli citizenship.
Israelis have long criticized Al-Jazeera’s reporting, but authorities generally allow its journalists to operate freely. Another Al Jazeera reporter, Givara Budeiri, was briefly arrested during a protest in Jerusalem last year and treated for a broken hand, which her employer attributed to police rough treatment.
Relations between the Israeli Defense Forces and the media, particularly Palestinian journalists, are strained. A number of Palestinian reporters were injured by rubber bullets or tear gas while covering demonstrations in the West Bank. A Palestinian journalist in Gaza was shot dead by Israeli forces in 2018 while filming violent protests along the Gaza border.
In November of that year, Associated Press reporter Rashed Rashid was covering a protest near the Gaza border when he was shot in the left ankle, apparently by Israeli fire. Rashid was wearing riot gear that clearly identified him as a journalist and was standing with a group of other journalists about 600 meters (660 yards) from the Israeli border when he was hit. The military never acknowledged the shooting.
During last year’s war between Israel and the militant Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli airstrike destroyed the buildingng in Gaza City, which houses the offices of The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. Residents were ordered to evacuate and no one was injured in the strike. Israel said Hamas uses the building as a command center but has not provided any evidence.