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Israel blamed for killing of ‘brave, professional’ Al Jazeera journalist

Shireen Abu Akleh

Shireen Abu Akleh

Published May 12, 2022


Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed while covering clashes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was among Arab media’s most prominent figures and widely hailed for her bravery and professionalism.

In the hours after her death, young Palestinians described Abu Akleh, 51, as an inspiration, especially to women, many of whom were motivated to pursue journalism because of her.

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"She never tired," Al Jazeera senior international correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid told AFP by phone from Ukraine.

"She was always there whenever anything happened... She wanted to be there, to tell the story, constantly," she added.

Her prominence grew through her coverage of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, from 2000 to 2005.

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Senior Al Jazeera journalist Dima Khatib tweeted that Abu Akleh was "one of the first Arab women war correspondents in the late 1990s when the traditional role of women was to present from the television studio".

"Shireen was a pioneer in a generation that broke stereotypical gender roles in TV journalism."

Al Jazeera has accused Israeli forces of killing her.The Palestinian-American, was wearing a press vest that clearly marked her as a journalist while reporting in the city of Jenin, the Qatar-based outlet said. But Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it was "likely" that she was killed by indiscriminate gunfire from Palestinian militants.

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She was covering the latest arrest operation launched by the Israeli military amid deadly Arab attacks in Israel. Her death seemed likely to add more fuel to a surging conflict.

In an interview shortly before her death, Abu Akleh, described herself as a "product of Jerusalem," with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shaping much of her life.

Abu Akleh said she was often afraid while reporting but made sure to avoid unnecessary risk.

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“I don't throw myself at death,” she told an outlet in the West Bank city of Nablus.

“I search for a safe place to stand and how to protect my crew before worrying about the footage.”

The Palestinian health ministry said Abu Akleh had been hit in the head by gunfire. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Al Jazeera described her death as blatant, cold-blooded murder by Israeli forces.

In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said Israel “will be conducting a thorough investigation" and it called on the Palestinian Authority to cooperate “to get to the truth“.

Ali Samoodi, a Palestinian journalist wounded alongside Abu Akleh, said Israeli forces “suddenly opened fire” at them during the operation, and he disputed the military's account that she had been near Palestinians who had been shooting indiscriminately.

“They 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,” Samoodi, treated at a hospital in Jenin, told Reuters.

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