Israeli Forces Shot and Killed Palestinian American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Shireen Abu Ashleh, a veteran Palestinian American journalist, was shot and killed by Israeli forces as she covered an Israeli army raid in Jenin refugee camps early Wednesday morning. Video released by Al JazeeraShows Abu Akleh was wearing an official press uniform when she was hit in the head by a single shot from an Israeli sniper. “She gave voice to the struggles of Palestinians over a career spanning nearly three decades,” says journalist Dalia Hatuqa, remembering her friend and colleague. “Her killing is not an isolated incident. This has been happening for a long time: Israeli attacks against media workers, especially Palestinians, and the relative impunity under which they operate.”


This is a hurry transcript. Copy may not be final.

AMY GOODMAN: A warning to our audience: We begin today’s show with a story that contains graphic footage.

Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank shot and killed Shireen Ab Akleh, a veteran Palestinian American journalist, while she was covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camps early this morning. This according to Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Health Ministry. Al Jazeera has released video that shows the moments after Shireen Ab Akleh was shot in her face.

A spokesperson for Israel’s army told a military radio station that Abu Akleh was likely killed by Palestinian snipers, though he offered no evidence. Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief said Shireen Abu Akleh was targeted by “direct shot” from an Israeli sniper. Another Palestinian journalist, Al-Quds After being shot in the back, reporter Ali al-Samudi was taken to hospital in stable condition. Speaking from Jenin’s hospital, al-Samudi claimed that he was one among four journalists who were taken prisoner by Israeli snipers.

ALI AL-SAMUDI: [translated]The occupation is criminal and murderous. They shot us without any reason. We, a group of journalists, were there wearing our full press uniforms, in addition to the helmets with the word “press” written on them in large letters, as big as the whole world. We were obvious.

AMY GOODMAN: In a statement, Al Jazeera said it holds the Israeli government and its military responsible for the killing, condemning it as a, quote, “heinous crime, which intends to only prevent the media from conducting their duty,” unquote. The U.S. ambassador to Israel called for an investigation, tweeting he was, quote, “Very sad to learn of the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” unquote.

For more, we’re joined by a dear friend and colleague of Shireen Abu Akleh. Dalia Hatuqa, a multimedia journalist from Palestine who has covered extensively Israel and Palestine, is here. She’s joining us from Amman, Jordan.

Welcoming to Democracy Now!, Dalia. We send our deepest condolences for Shireen’s passing. We are asking for your help in identifying her and describing what happened.

DALIA HATUQA: Amy, thank you.

Shireen and my colleague Al Jazeera had met many years back in D.C. She was stationed in Ramallah, but she was then seconded to D.C. bureau. We became instant friends.

Shireen was a Palestinian Christian who came from Jerusalem. She was courageous. She was a kind reporter. She had a infectious laugh. Over a nearly three-decade-long career, she spoke out for the Palestinian people’s struggles. During the height of the Intifada, she became a mainstay in every Palestinian home, to the extent that I recall Israeli soldiers going around Ramallah and mimicking her, shouting from their bullhorn her famous closing line, “Shireen Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera, Ramallah.”

According to my understanding, she was in Jenin on assignment. I just watched an extended video of the incident, wherein Shireen was wearing a vest that was clearly marked “press,” and she was wearing a helmet. The shot was aimed at her neck and out of the side of her face. And she didn’t stand a chance. She didn’t have time to take cover. It was a shot that would have been possible only if the shooter was experienced.

According to my understanding, the Israelis claimed that they are conducting an investigation. I personally have no faith in any probe that’s done by the Israelis. Many people have lost their lives and no one has been held liable for their deaths. Shireen, an American citizen, may make this a little different. We are now left to wonder: Why is Shireen more worthy of an investigation than any other Palestinian?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dalia, the events in Ukraine over the past few months have been the focus of most people around the world. It is the Russian invasion. But could you talk about what’s been happening in the Occupied Territories and the increased violence that has been occurring on the side of both, of the Israelis, in those territories?

DALIA HATUQA: Well, I mean, I wouldn’t say that there’s been an increase in violence, because violence is taking place every single day. Every day there are home demolitions, demolishments of Palestinian homes. Every day, Palestinians are forced from their homes. Settlements are being built. Violence is a constant. Extended violence is only a sign that Israelis have been killed. Both Israelis and Palestinians should not be killed. I think there needs to be an end to that and the only way to end that is by ending Israel’s military rule of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

I want to go back to Shireen, as her death is not an isolated event. This has been going on for a while: Israeli attacks on media workers, particularly Palestinians, and relative impunity in which they operate. And I believe that Human Rights Watch, Israeli’s premier human rights organization B’Tselem have all reached the same diagnosis, which is the reality that there is no accountability for these sorts of abuses when it comes to actions by the Israeli authorities. We remember, for example, two journalists who were covering The Great March of Return in 2018, and two others who were wounded by Israelisniper fire in 2019, and 2015.

The last thing I’ll mention is the targeting of media buildings in Gaza Strip. In particular, the Israeli air raid that destroyed Al Jazeera and AP offices in al-Jalaa in May 2021. These are not isolated incidents. And just the fact that there may be a probe is important, but at the end of the day, I don’t think me or any other Palestinian really has any hope that this probe will lead to justice being served for Shireen or any of the other journalists being killed.

AMY GOODMAN: Just this latest: The spokesperson for Palestinian Authority, Ibrahim Milhim, said his government rejects any role for Israel in an investigation into Shireen’s killing. He said, “Let me ask, when does the criminal have the right to take part in the investigation against his victim?” International Federation of Journalists have submitted — are going to submit Abu Akleh’s case to the ICC. And Anthony Bellanger, the secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said Abu Akleh’s killing is a “deliberate systematic targeting of a journalist.”

Dalia, I have one final question. This is attributed to Reuters that there’s an investigation that’s going to be conducted, and Al Jazeera is saying that Israeli police have raided Shireen’s home in Jerusalem, in occupied East Jerusalem, and have confiscated Palestinian flags and prevented the playing of nationalistic songs. Al Jazeera videos show family and friends shouting at Israeli police for their freedom. A journalist on the scene claimed that the mourners managed pushing the forces out of the house but remained in the area. Dalia, I understand that the funeral will be held in Jerusalem tomorrow. Is that correct?

DALIA HATUQA: Correct. I saw that video, and I saw that Israeli police raided the area around Shireen’s home where people had gathered. People were gathered in Ramallah and East Jerusalem. She worked in Ramallah and her home in East Jerusalem. They took over flags, as you mentioned. They stopped the playing of songs that were deemed nationalist. And my understanding is that tomorrow there will be a military — a military — what do you call it? It’s like a military funeral. Thank you. A military funeral will be held in Ramallah from the presidential compound. After that, she will be buried at East Jerusalem, where her mother was born. My understanding is that there will be vigils and other gatherings today by loved ones and friends in Ramallah.

AMY GOODMAN: Dalia, we are grateful for your support. Tomorrow Democracy Now! we’ll bring you more on the story. Dalia Hatuqa, Palestinian American multimedia journalist who’s extensively covered Palestine and Israel, a friend of Shireen Abu Akleh.

Next, we will talk to Maria Ressa, a Filipina journalist who won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is talking about the presidential elections in Philippines. Stay with us.