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Veteran Al Jazeera Reporter Killed in IDF Exchange of Fire in Samaria

May 11, 2022

by: Ilse Strauss

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Akleh was a veteran reporter for Al Jazeera.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022 | A veteran Al Jazeera reporter was killed this morning in a firefight between Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian gunmen 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.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian–American duel citizen, died from a bullet wound to the head, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. However, it remains unclear which side fired the bullet that killed Akleh.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) as well as Al Jazeera was quick to blame Israel. The Qatar-based network interrupted its regular programming to report on Akleh’s death and issued a statement, saying it holds Israel responsible for “the terrible crime” and “murder of our colleague.”

The IDF’s statement was more cautious, explaining that the military was investigating the incident.

According to the statement, IDF forces entered Jenin to arrest terror suspects in an attempt to quench the deadliest wave of terror in Israel in years by nabbing prospective terrorists before they can strike.

The troops came under “massive fire” and consequently returned fire, the army said. “During the operation in Jenin refugee camp, suspects fired an enormous amount of gunfire at troops and hurled explosive devices. [Israeli] forces fired back.”

“There is a possibility that journalists were hit, possibly by shots fired by Palestinian gunmen,” the statement continued.

Video footage from the scene corroborates the army’s version of events. A clip shows a Palestinian gunman—masked, wearing a flak jacket and armed with an automatic weapon—firing wildly around a corner at what is assumed to be the Israeli troops. The gunman then retreats to join a group of Palestinians while shouting, “We hit a soldier. He is lying on the ground.” All the while, gunfire can be heard echoing through the street of Jenin.

From there, the scene descends into chaos as it becomes clear that someone has been hit. The same gunman can be heard screaming—now more urgently—and bystanders can be seen running for help.

The question posed by Israel supporters on social media is this: If no soldiers were injured in this morning’s operation, could the person the gunman saw falling be Akleh? If so, that would indeed mean that her death was caused by Palestinian—not Israeli—gunfire. Moreover, if Akleh—who had been wearing a flak jacket and a helmet identifying her as a member of the press—had been standing among or in close vicinity to Palestinian gunmen firing at Israeli troops, is her death, tragic as it is, Israel’s fault?

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made it clear that he backed the military. “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,” the prime minister said in a statement.

In an interview with Army Radio, IDF Spokesman Ran Kochav addressed the possibility that Israeli gunfire killed Akleh. “But even if soldiers shot at—or, God forbid, hurt—someone who was not involved, this happened in battle, during a firefight, where this Palestinian is with the shooters. So this thing can happen.”

Akleh, he continued, was “filming and working for a media outlet amidst armed Palestinians.”

Palestinian health officials and witnesses have rejected the possibility that Akleh’s death can be ascribed to errant Palestinian gunfire, pointing a finger at Israel.

Israel does seem quite convinced of its innocence, though. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has offered a joint pathological investigation with Israel working side-by-side with the Palestinians to ascertain the truth behind “the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”

And so the waiting game for the results of the investigation begins.

Sadly, it seems like as per usual, Israel has already been tried and found guilty in the court of social media.

Posted on May 11, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 11, 2022)

Photo Credit: Prachatai/Flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

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