Fifty-one-year-old Shireen Abu Akleh was covering an Israeli military operation in the Jenin refugee camp, wearing a helmet and a vest marked with “Press,” when she was shot in the neck, according to Al Jazeera’s statement.
Al-Jazeera said that the death was a “blatant murder, violating international laws and norms” by Israel’s forces.
It said “the Israeli occupation forces assassinated in cold blood Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Palestine, Shireen Abu Akleh, targeting her with live fire early this morning.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — and the Palestinian Authority — pinned Abu Akleh’s death on Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
The Israeli Defence Forces initially challenged this accusation and said earlier it was “looking into the possibility that journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”
This was based on video shared on Twitter by the Israeli Foreign Ministry purporting to show the described Palestinians shooting guns, killing Abu Akleh.
But the IDF has since backtracked from its claim that a Palestinian gunman shot Abu Akleh, saying “at the moment it is not possible to determine from which fire Abu Akleh was killed,” Axios reported.
Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Samudi, who was shot alongside Abu Akleh and is recovering from his injuries, told the Middle East Eye that there were no “resistance fighters around us.”
“We were going in to film the [Israeli] army raid,” al-Samudi said. “Then they started shooting at us. They didn’t ask us to leave, or to stop.”
He added: “They shot at us. One bullet hit me, and another hit [Abu Akleh]
Sky News reported al-Samudi as saying Israel’s suggestions were a “complete lie” and that there were no Palestinian militants or civilians in the area at the time. The only people present were journalists and the military, Sky News reported him as saying.
Tom Nides, the US ambassador to Israel, called for an immediate investigation on Twitter.
“We have offered the Palestinians a joint pathological investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Twitter. “Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth.”
Bennett said in his statement the Palestinian Authority has so far been uncooperative in seeking an investigation.
“Israel has called on the PA to conduct a joint forensic analysis based on all the documentation and findings available in order to uncover the truth,” Bennet said in a statement. “As I said, the Palestinians are refusing, and I expect them to cooperate and refrain from any actions that may contaminate the investigation.”
Abu Akleh was an accomplished and prominent reporter who had worked in broadcast news since 1997, The Guardian reported. The paper cited Tamara al-Rifai, the senior spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, as saying she was “a fixture of the Palestinian story.”
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