Grief and doubt over the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank

For a quarter of a century, Palestinians listening to Al Jazeera have grown accustomed to reassuring, tailored signatures from a star reporter, an Arab woman and veteran reporter who is a household name throughout the Middle East .

“Shireen Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera,” she would say, followed by a date line tracing the arc of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – from Ramallah to Jericho, from Bethlehem to Jerusalem.

The 51-year-old Palestinian-American joined the fledgling Qatar-funded channel in 1997 as an architecture student whose fame grew with Al Jazeera’s influence in the Arab world. According to her friend and journalist Dalia Hatuqa, her signature even became part of the soundtrack for the 2002 fight for the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, where Israeli soldiers were killed in a shootout with Palestinian militants in a refugee camp. Use the megaphone to laugh at her.

Abu Akleh was shot in the head this week in Jenin. Her killing has brought back into the spotlight issues she’s explored throughout her career — the brutality of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the challenges Palestinians face in holding Israeli forces accountable.

Israeli soldiers have killed 45 people so far this year, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said. It said as many as 35 of the dead were civilians, including women and children. The Israeli army disputed the figures and said it was targeting militants.

The question of who fired when Abu Ackley reported on clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen has become a key issue. It drew international attention to Israel’s military operations in the West Bank, which began in response to attacks by Palestinian perpetrators in Israel. Since March this year, 17 Israelis and 3 foreigners have been killed in the worst spate of violence in recent years in Israel. Four of the attackers were from Jenin.

Israeli border guards and a soldier take aim during a raid on a house in the town of Rummanah near Jenin © Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images

Abu Akler was honored at a national memorial service in Ramallah on Thursday, with a military guard at the presidential headquarters by her side before her funeral at a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem on Friday. Before the funeral, Israeli police attacked mourners with batons and stun grenades.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israeli soldiers for her death, a view shared by witnesses, Al Jazeera and most Palestinians.

“The murder of Shireen is not the first crime, as dozens of Palestinian journalists have become martyrs,” he said, as the crowd wailed and chanted her name at her memorial. “We believe that the Israeli occupation authorities are fully responsible for her killing, and this crime will not be able to cover up the truth.” Since 2000, some 25 journalists, including two foreigners, have been arrested by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. kill.

After initially suggesting that Abu Akleh may have died in a Palestinian shooting, Israeli officials called her killing “tragic” and called for a joint investigation with Palestinians and used bullets for forensics. The Palestinian Authority rejected both requests.

The Israeli military has launched its own investigation, but Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has warned that “uncovering the truth” may take time. “It could be on the Palestinian side, sadly it could be on our side,” he added.

Hagai El-Ad, who has been investigating the Israeli army for years for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, believes the request for a joint investigation is hypocritical. Israel has never agreed to a joint investigation in the past and has barred UN and ICC investigators from entering the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

“The bottom line is that in almost all cases, they don’t even launch an investigation, or put in the guise of an investigation, and then close the case without prosecution,” he said.

When lower-ranking soldiers are charged, the sentences can be light, El-Ad said.A sniper who shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian teenager in Gaza in 2014 was sentenced 30 days of community service; another claim He mistook live ammunition for rubber bullets Sentenced to nine months, but later doubled by Israel’s Supreme Court; and a third in 2018 execution of a Palestinian attacker He has been disarmed and subdued by other soldiers for nine months, and in his defence claimed he believed the attackers may have hidden a suicide bomb.

As crowds poured into Ramallah and Jerusalem for Abu Akleh’s ceremony, her friends mourned a woman who loved shopping, partying and travelling and had a sweet tooth. “She was always smiling and dancing — reporting on Israeli atrocities never broke her spirits,” said Hatuka, who met her when she was 20.

She said young women in the region were inspired by Abu Akleh’s composure to imitate her legendary signature in front of a mirror, with their hairbrushes serving as microphones.

Second year growing up in Nazareth uprising Or uprising, Rawan Bisharat, 39, who works to promote partnership between Palestinians and Israelis at Tel Aviv-Jaffa College, remembers Abu Akleh’s Jay C. How Radio Ning started her political awakening.

“I was only 17 years old and was trying to sort out my identity as a second-class Arab citizen,” she said next to a monument made of Abu Akleh posters and flowers in the mixed Palestinian-Israeli Jaffa community.

“For me, she was the voice of the second uprising, the voice of resistance. Until yesterday, when I woke up to hear the news of her being killed, I didn’t know what that meant – but yesterday, every As Palestinians, no matter where we are, in Tunisia, Lebanon, Gaza, Jaffa or the United States, we are all connected by Shireen. Now we grieve together and lose something of our childhood together.”

Source link