Al Jazeera: Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh killed by Israeli sniper

Shireen Abu Akleh. Pic: Al Jazeera

The Qatari TV news network Al Jazeera has said that its journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has been shot and killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.

The 51-year-old was covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp when she was shot in the face by a single bullet despite wearing a press vest, Al Jazeera said.

Another Palestinian journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was wounded in the back but is in stable condition.

Israel says Abu Akleh was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire but Al-Samoudi said there was no presence of Palestinian armed fighters at the scene.

“We were going to film the Israeli army raid, and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” he said. “The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen. They killed her in cold blood because they are killers and they specialise in killing only the Palestinian people.”

Giles Trendle, Al Jazeera’s managing director, said that the network was “shocked and saddened” by the killing of Abu Akleh.

“We have had a history throughout the world but particularly in this region, where we have had tragedies,” he said, calling for a transparent investigation of the killing of Abu Akleh.

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“As journalists, we carry on. Our mission is to carry on. We will not be silenced despite attempts to silence us,” Trendle added.

The Palestinian Authority presidency denounced Abu Akleh’s killing as a “crime of execution.”

Hamas said that the killing of Abu Akleh by the Israeli occupation forces is the latest crime committed by them.

Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director for Human Rights Watch, said Abu Akleh’s death by Israeli forces is not unusual.

“We know that Israeli forces systematically have used excessive force,” he told Al Jazeera.

“This is an event that needs to be understood in the context of this systemic practice and the killings of many other Palestinian journalists.”

Shakir went on to describe Israeli investigations as a “white washed mechanism.”

But Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said it is “likely” that Palestinian gunfire killed the Al Jazeera reporter.

“According to the information we’ve gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians – who were indiscriminately firing at the time – were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist,” Bennett said in a statement.

The Israeli army confirmed it had conducted an operation early on Wednesday in the Jenin refugee camp, but denied that it had deliberately targeted journalists.

“The (army) of course does not aim at journalists,” a military official said.

The army said there was an exchange of fire between suspects and security forces and that it was “investigating the event and looking into the possibility that journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said Israel has offered a joint investigation with the Palestinians.

Shireen Abu Akleh joined Al Jazeera in 1997 one year after it was founded. A U.S. citizen and a Palestinian Christian, she was one of the most prominent journalists in the network.

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