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Death of Al Jazeera Journalist: What We Know Thus Far

May 12, 2022

by: Ilse Strauss

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Akleh was killed while covering an IDF anti-terror raid in Jenin (pictured).

Thursday, 12 May 2022 | Within less than 24 hours, the tragic death of a veteran Al Jazeera reporter yesterday in a firefight between Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian gunmen has descended into a battle of narratives and a fight for truth.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian–American duel citizen, died from a bullet wound to the head yesterday morning while covering an Israeli counterterror raid in Jenin, a Palestinian-governed city in northern Samaria that has been at the heart of recent roiling tensions in Judea and Samaria—also known as the so-called West Bank—on behalf of the Qatar-based network.

The question is: Who fired the shot that killed Akleh, an IDF soldier or a Palestinian gunman?

The Palestinians, Al Jazeera and every other anti-Israel voice were quick to jump on the Israel-bashing bandwagon, pointing a finger at the IDF. The anti-Israel camp’s narrative rest on the testimony of eyewitnesses, most notably a Palestinian reporter for Quds, who claims that only the IDF opened fire and that the IDF fire therefore struck Akleh. However, multiple videos—released by both the IDF and Palestinian sources—show Palestinian gunmen firing indiscriminately, putting a giant question mark over the Quds reporter’s account.

Israel has been more cautious, waiting to conduct an investigation before jumping to conclusions. The military did, however, provide context for the incident. The IDF was reportedly in Jenin as part of an operation to put a stop to a bloody seven-week wave of Palestinian terror in which 19 people have been murdered so far. Jenin has emerged as the hotbed from which the perpetrators of the most deadly terror attacks sprang, and yesterday morning’s raid specifically was aimed at capturing a prospective terrorist with links to Hamas before he could strike.

The Israeli troops came under massive fire as soon as they entered Jenin, a fact that numerous video clips corroborate. The IDF highlighted three direct exchanges of fire involving a gunman on a rooftop, a terrorist hurling explosives and a gunman armed with an M16 assault rifle. The forces returned fire in all three incidents.

“There was continuous, indiscriminate fire at security forces and at the area” where Akleh was shot, an IDF spokesperson said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said yesterday that a preliminary investigation shows that errant Palestinian fire likely hit Akleh.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett concurred. “According to the information in our hands right now, there is a good chance that armed Palestinians, firing wildly, brought about the tragic death of the journalist,” he said in a statement.

IDF Spokesperson Ran Kochav conceded that Israeli fire might have killed Akleh, but he pointed out that the journalist had been standing among or in close vicinity to Palestinian gunmen firing at Israeli troops.

There is a simple solution to the whodunit. A joint forensic investigation, ballistic analysis of the bullet and a pathology test conducted by a team of Israelis and Palestinians would identify the shooter. In fact, Israel suggested such an investigation mere hours after Akleh’s death.

There is one problem, though. The Palestinian Authority (PA)—whose Health Ministry seized Akleh’s body—refused Israel’s request for a joint autopsy and sharing forensic data.

This begs the question: Why would Israel want the investigation while the PA doesn’t?

A PA official said today that “all indications, evidence and witnesses confirm her assassination by Israeli special units.” However, if this is the case, why not confront Israel with the evidence? In fact, why not present the proof to the international community?

The IDF, for its part, has launched its own investigation, a process involving the army’s General Staff and the entire chain of command, including Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, a reflection of how seriously it takes the incident.

Perhaps the investigation will show that a Palestinian gunshot meant for an IDF soldier hit Akleh instead. Maybe it will show that IDF fire struck her as the Israeli troops returned fire. Sadly, when it comes to the Jewish state, the truth often takes second place to an anti-Israel narrative.

The PA, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Amnesty International, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and hundreds of thousands the world over have already judged and found Israel guilty. The phrase Shireen Abu Akleh is currently trending on Twitter with 383,000 tweets in English and 326,000 in Arabic, the majority slamming Israel for cold-blooded murder.

In the eyes of the world, Israel is in the wrong, no matter who really fired the shot that killed Akleh.

Posted on May 12, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 12, 2022)

Photo Credit: أمين/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

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