The murder of Shireen Abu Akleh during a raid by the Israeli army in the West bank, which sparked rage worldwide, must not go unpunished.
The Palestinian journalist was killed by a bullet that Israel has now hinted came from a weapon used by its soldiers. Calls for an independent transparent investigation have come from dozens of countries including the United States, the European Union, Arab countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as the United Nations.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Shireen’s funeral held the Israeli army “fully responsible” for her death. The Palestinian Authority called it an “execution”.
President Abbas said he has rejected an Israeli offer to conduct a joint investigation into Shireen’s death, and he has the right. How many previous similar incidents, including the killing of journalists and activists, were swept under the rug by the Israeli army?
Shortly after Shireen was declared dead by the hospital, the Israeli army claimed that it “was “investigating the event and looking into the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”
But later it backtracked and said it was not possible to determine the source of the fire but sources said the bullet likely came from a weapon used by the army.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price called for “an immediate and thorough” investigation, insisting, “those responsible must be held accountable. Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere.”
The murder of Abu Akleh indeed is a heinous crime and blatant violation of international laws that protect journalists in conflict zones. In the viral footage of Shireen’s murder, she can be seen wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word “PRESS”. She was also a prominent reporter, very well known to the Israeli army.
It is also not the first time the occupation army shot directly at a journalist and activist. We are reminded by the senseless killing of American activist Rachel Corrie who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 during a peaceful protest.
According to Palestinian official figures, more than 50 Palestinian journalists have been killed by Israeli fire since 2001. Global organisation Reporters Without Borders says more than 144 journalists have also been injured in just the last four years.
Less than a handful of the perpetrators of those killings have been prosecuted. It is upon the international community to ensure justice for Shireen Abu Akleh.