Conflicts & War

Palestinians mourn reporter killed during Israeli raid

Ramallah, West Bank, May 11 (EFE).- Amid cries of “we will avenge you, martyr,” thousands of Palestinians poured onto the streets of cities across the West Bank on Wednesday to decry the death of Al Jazeera television correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, fatally shot while covering an Israel army raid in Jenin.

Abu Akleh, a Jerusalem-born citizen of the United States, was a household name throughout the region who reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for more than 20 years.

After improvised funerals in Jenin – where she died – and Nablus, where the autopsy was performed, she was brought to Ramallah, the unofficial capital of the West Bank and location of the Al Jazeera bureau where the 51-year-old Abu Akleh worked.

Her body, lying on a wooden litter and covered by a Palestinian flag, the PRESS vest she was wearing when she was shot, and a floral wreath, was unloaded from an ambulance in front of the bureau.

Following a brief ceremony, pallbearers lifted the litter onto their shoulders and carried it through streets lined with mourners, including Birzeit University journalism professor Juman Quneis, a long-time friend of Abu Akleh.

Quneis said she cited Abu Akleh as a role model for her students.

“There is no journalist in Palestine who doesn’t love her. She was the best and an exemplary person,” the professor said of her friend.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera accused the Israeli military of murdering Abu Akleh in “cold blood.”

The network called on the international community to hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for “their intentional targeting and killing of Shireen.”

But Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the journalist was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire.

“According to the information we have gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians – who were firing indiscriminately at the time – were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist,” he said.

Quneis said that Abu Akleh scrupulously followed safety protocols and “knew how to behave in very dangerous zones.”

“So I am certain she was the target of the Israeli forces,” the professor said.

Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Samudi was shot in the back while covering the same event. He is undergoing treatment and is in stable condition.

The United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, condemned the journalist’s killing.

“My deepest condolences to her family & wish a speedy recovery to her fellow journalist, injured in the incident. I call for an immediate and thorough investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable. Media workers should never be targeted,” he wrote on Twitter.

The US government, which annually provides more than $3 billion aid to Israel, likewise denounced Abu Akleh’s death.

“We are heartbroken by and strongly condemn the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank. The investigation must be immediate and thorough and those responsible must be held accountable. Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Wednesday’s raid in Jenin was the latest in a series of incursions across the occupied West Bank by Israel’s security forces in response to a wave of deadly attacks that have killed 18 Israelis.

Some 30 Palestinians have died during these operations, some of them unarmed civilians with no links to militant groups. EFE yo-pd/ssk-smq/jt/dr

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