Shireen Abu Akleh: Al Jazeera journalist dies after being shot in Israeli raid

An Al Jazeera reporter was shot dead while following an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin early Wednesday.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian journalist for the broadcaster’s Arabic-language channel, was shot dead and died shortly thereafter.

Ali Samoudi, another Palestinian journalist, was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in the back.

The broadcaster blamed Israeli forces, but Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said she was “probably” killed by Palestinian gunshots.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera network stopped broadcasting to announce his death. In a statement that appeared on his channel, he called on the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces responsible for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague.”

“We are committed to legally prosecuting the perpetrators, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and to bring them to justice,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.

The Israeli army said its forces were attacked with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they returned fire. The army said it was “investigating the event and examining the possibility that journalists were shot by Palestinian gunmen.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that, based on the information already gathered, “there is a considerable possibility that the armed Palestinians, who fired wildly, were the ones who caused the journalist’s unfortunate death.”

Israeli officials said there were footage of Palestinian gunmen bragging about killing a soldier, but that no Israelis were injured in the incident, indicating that they had shot a reporter.

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 occupied West Bank and works with Israel on security matters, condemned what it called a “shocking crime” committed by Israeli forces.

Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem. He started working for Al Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported on cameras from all over the Palestinian territories. In the footage of the incident, Abu Akleh can be seen wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word “PRESS”.

Samoudi, who was working as his producer, told The Associated Press that they were part of a group of seven reporters who went to cover the raid early Wednesday. He said they all wore protective clothing that clearly marked them as reporters, and walked past the Israeli troops so that the soldiers could see them and know they were there.

He said the first shot missed them, then a second hit him and a third killed Abu Akleh. He said there were no militants or other civilians in the area, just the journalists and the army.

He said the military’s suggestion that they were shot by militants was a “complete lie”.

Shaza Hanaysheh, a reporter for a Palestinian news site who was also among the reporters, gave a similar account in an interview with Al Jazeera’s Arab channel, saying there were no clashes or shootings in the immediate area.

She said that when the shots rang out, she and Abu Akleh ran to a tree for shelter.

“I reached the tree before Shireen. She fell to the ground, “Hanaysheh said.” The soldiers didn’t stop shooting even after they fell. Every time I reached out to Shireen, the soldiers fired at us. “

Brigadier General Ran Kochav, an Israeli commander, told army radio that the two reporters were “armed with cameras” and were standing next to Palestinian gunmen. He said the militants were “unprofessional people, terrorists, who were shooting at our troops” and probably hit journalists instead.

In recent weeks, Israel has carried out near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank amidst a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, many carried out by Palestinians from and around Jenin. The city, and in particular its refugee camp, has long been known as a militant bastion.