Doha: An Al Jazeera reporter was killed by Israeli army in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Qatar-based satellite news channel and the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Al Jazeera said Shireen Abu Akleh was shot while reporting on an army raid in the city of Jenin.
The health ministry said the reporters were hit by Israeli fire. In video footage of the incident, Shireen Abu Akleh can be seen wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word "PRESS."
The Israeli military said its forces came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. The military said it is "investigating the event."
Abu Aqleh, 51, a Palestinian Christian, was a prominent figure in the channel’s Arabic news service.
Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was born in Jerusalem. She began working for Al Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported on-camera from across the Occupied Territories.
The Israeli army confirmed it had conducted an operation in Jenin refugee camp early Wednesday, but firmly denied it had deliberately targeted a reporter.
“The [army] of course does not aim at journalists,” a military official told AFP.
A statement from Al Jazeera said: “In a blatant murder, violating international laws and norms, the Israeli occupation forces assassinated in cold blood Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Palestine.”
Joint pathological investigation
It called on the international community to hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their “intentional targeting and killing” of the journalist.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Israel was seeking a “joint pathological investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh”.
“Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth,” Lapid added.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Palestinian gunmen in the camp were likely responsible for Abu Aqleh’s death.
“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.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, producer Ali Al Samudi, was wounded in the incident, the broadcaster added.
The fatal shooting comes nearly a year after an Israeli air strike destroyed a Gaza building that housed the offices of Al Jazeera and news agency AP.
Israel has said the building also hosted offices for key members of the Hamas Islamist group, which controls the Israeli-blockaded Gaza strip.
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.”
Producer Samudi said there were no Palestinian fighters in the area where Abu Aqleh was shot.
“If there were resistance fighters, we would not have gone into the area,” he said in testimony posted online, stating that the Israelis “fired towards us”.
The Palestinian Authority called Abu Aqleh’s killing an “execution,” and part of an Israeli effort to obscure the “truth” about its occupation of the West Bank.
Qatar’s assistant foreign minister Lolwah Al Khater said Israeli troops had killed Abu Aqleh “by shooting her in the face” in what she called an act of “state sponsored Israeli terrorism”.