Jerusalem: The US ambassador to Israel called for an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian American journalist who was shot while covering clashes between gunmen and Israeli soldiers for the Al Jazeera network.
In a tweet, Tom Nides said he was “very sad” to learn of Shireen Abu Akleh’s death on Tuesday, and “encouraged” a probe of an incident in the West Bank city of Jenin that also injured as least one other journalist.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera and the wounded reporter blamed Israeli forces, while Israel said there was evidence the two were hit by Palestinian gunfire.
This came as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed its “strong condemnation” of Abu Akleh’s “assassination”, stressing that this crime constituted a blatant violation of international laws and norms.
The clashes in Jenin came amid an upsurge in violence that began in late March as Muslim and Jewish religious holidays coincided. More than 30 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli raids across the West Bank and in Jerusalem, while 19 people have died in attacks in Israeli cities and towns, some carried out by Palestinians from in or near Jenin.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that he held the Israeli government fully responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, calling it a “heinous crime” and a result of “the occupation’s policy of targeting journalists to obscure the truth and commit crimes silently.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said evidence suggested “armed Palestinians, who were indiscriminately firing at the time” were responsible.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want the territory to form the main part of their future state.
Abu Akleh began working for Al Jazeera in 1997, according to the Associated Press, and regularly reported from across the Palestinian territories. In video footage of the incident, Abu Akleh can be seen wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word “PRESS,” the AP said.