Jazeera journalist's killing in Israeli raid triggers global outrage, calls for probe

*Qatar strongly condemns Israeli occupation forces' assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh

Widespread condemnation and calls for a transparent, independent probe followed the killing of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh (51) Wednesday.

The prominent Palestinian-American reporter was shot dead during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. Another Palestinian journalist at the scene, Ali al-Samudi, was wounded.

Al Jazeera Media Network said the Israeli occupation forces assassinated Abu Akleh in "cold blood", and described it as a "blatant murder, violating international laws and norms". Abu Akleh was targeted even though she was clearly wearing a 'Press' jacket that identified her as a journalist, the network added.

Qatar condemned in the strongest terms the Israeli occupation forces' assassination of Abu Akleh near Jenin refugee camp and the wounding of Al Jazeera producer-journalist al-Samudi, and considered them a heinous crime and a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and a blatant infringement on freedom of media and expression and the right of peoples to access information.

World leaders, organisations, human rights defenders and press freedom groups also condemned the killing and called for an investigation. These include the White House, European Union (EU), Kuwait, the Egyptian foreign ministry, Arab League and the Palestinian presidency, among others. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described Abu Akleh's death as a "blatant, cold-blooded murder" by the Israeli military.

There were also calls for a transparent and independent probe by the US State Department, EU, the UN, Arab nations at the UN, and others.

In a statementWednesday, Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the international community to take urgent action to prevent the occupation authorities from committing further violations against the freedom of expression and information, and to take all measures to stop violence against Palestinians and media workers and protect them.

Journalists, media professionals and individuals who are engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict are considered civilians by the international humanitarian law, and they should be respected and protected, the ministry said in the statement.

It also stressed the need to hold the occupation accountable for this horrific crime and bring those responsible to international justice.

The ministry emphasised that the escalation and measures taken by the Israeli occupation authorities constitute a serious threat to international efforts aimed at implementing the two-state solution, and impede the resumption of the peace process on the basis of international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. It also reiterated Qatar's firm position on the justice of the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the brotherly Palestinian people and the establishment of their independent state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The ministry expressed Qatar's condolences to Abu Akleh's family, while also wishing al-Samudi a speedy recovery.

Al Jazeera condemned the killing of its correspondent, Abu Akleh, when Israeli occupation soldiers fired live bullets at herWednesday morning while she was covering the occupation's storming of the city of Jenin.

In a statement, 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, Shireen Abu Akleh, targeting her with live fire early this morning, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, while conducting her journalistic duty, clearly wearing a 'Press' jacket that identifies her as a journalist, covering the Israeli occupation forces storming of Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank."

The statement added, "Al Jazeera Media Network condemns this heinous crime, which intends to only prevent the media from conducting their duty. Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen. It also calls on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their intentional targeting and killing of Shireen."

"The Israeli authorities are also responsible for the targeting of al-Samudi, who was also shot in the back while covering the same event, and he is currently undergoing treatment," according to the statement.

"Al Jazeera extends its sincere condolences to the family of Shireen in Palestine, and to her extended family around the world, and we pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime and bring them to justice," it added.

In an Al Jazeera video captured in the moments around Abu Akleh's killing, gunfire can be heard in the first few seconds before a man yells "Shireen! Shireen! Ambulance!"

The camera then moves around the corner to show Abu Akleh slumped face-forward on the ground. Other journalists are seen rushing to take cover.

Al-Samudi said Israeli forces "suddenly opened fire" towards Abu Akleh and himself during the Jenin operation. He disputed an Israeli military account that gunmen were nearby when the two journalists were shot.

Treated for his wounds in a hospital in Jenin, he told reporters: "They (Israeli soldiers) didn’t ask us to leave and they didn’t ask us to stop (filming). They fired at us. One bullet hit me and another hit Shireen. They killed her in cold blood."

In a Reuters video, Abu Akleh's colleagues were seen standing around her body, which was wrapped in the Palestinian flag with a 'Press' jacket on top, as a priest said a prayer.

The US commander of American forces in the Middle East, Army General Michael "Erik" Kurilla, said his thoughts were with Abu Akleh, her family and her colleagues at Al Jazeera.

"Around the world, reporters such as Shireen demonstrate extraordinary courage every day," Kurilla said during a trip to the region.

Abu Akleh is originally from Bethlehem, but she was born (in 1971) and raised in Jerusalem. She initially studied architecture at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, then moved to journalism and obtained a bachelor's degree from Yarmouk University in Jordan.

After graduating, she returned to Palestine and worked at several sites such as UNRWA, Voice of Palestine Radio, Amman Satellite Channel, the Miftah Foundation, and Monte Carlo Radio. In 1997, she moved to work with Al Jazeera.

As seen on GulfTimes  Image Credits GulfTimes