Shireen Abu Akleh: Today, all Palestinians mourn | Opinion

At eight o’clock this morning, the ringing of my cell phone woke me up. This is a notification from a Telegram channel called “Martyrs of Palestine”. I’m not shocked. After all, it’s not uncommon for us Palestinians to hear that one or more of us have been killed in raids by the Israeli occupying forces – which happen almost every night in the West Bank, right at the break before dawn.

But when I actually read this text message, I was stunned: “Shireen Abu Akleh – 51 years – 5 November 2022 – Jenin refugee camp”. I’m sure this is a bug, a notification sent by mistake.

My WhatsApp and Twitter feeds are flooded with Shireen news, photos and videos as I try to process what I just read. This is real. She was killed – murdered. I was terrified. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. Hours later, as I write this, I still can’t stop crying.

Shireen Abu Akleh is an icon in Palestine and the Arab world. She is loved and respected by all. Her flawless journalism reputation precedes her. Her face and her voice are in our house every day. She was from Palestine, and the whole world heard it. She speaks for the voiceless and never gives up her commitment to her work.

Many journalists of my generation, even older, stood in front of their mirrors or in front of a group of friends, repeating her signature signature: “Shireen Abu Akleh, Aljazeeeera, Filasteen”, ready for the profession.

For me, she’s more than just a career role model. As a kid, she was the first, and for a long time, the only celebrity I knew by name and admired.

During the second uprising, I was a child. In 2002, when I was only 7 years old, I lived through the massive invasion of the West Bank by the Israeli army. I heard tanks rolling down the street, attack helicopters firing overhead, windows shattered by airstrikes.

I can’t go out most of the time, so the TV in our house is my only window to the outside world. Shireen and some of her colleagues are often on screen. I wondered: “Are they going to get tired? Are they scared?” I admire her and her team so much.

Around that time, I started making scrapbooks. Every day, I take my dad’s finished newspaper from him and cut out pictures to stick in my scrapbook. Once, I found a small picture of Shireen in a magazine. I cut out that little photo and stuck it on the inside cover of the scrapbook. I think she should be on page one. I am a huge fan. She is my hero.

That same year, I also had the opportunity to meet Shireen for the first time. One day, I insisted on visiting al-Muqata’a, the headquarters of the late Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, with my father, who was also a journalist.

Al-Muqata’a has been destroyed. Evidence of shelling was all around us, and smashed vehicles were scattered across the yard. What I saw on TV was suddenly under my feet. My father knew Shireen because they were colleagues in the press. He asked her to meet me and told her about the cutouts I had glued into the scrapbook. I was shy and embarrassed, but I still remember how she greeted me softly to a 7-year-old who wanted to grow up to be a brave reporter like her and my father.

Years have passed, times have changed, and television screens are filled with Palestinian journalists bravely reporting from the ground. But Shireen remains a respected veteran. She was one of the first to inspire a new generation of journalists to tell the story of Palestine, and over the years she has been one of the most committed to the work. Every budding TV reporter knew her and admired her. She is well known in the local press.

For the past two years, I was one of the journalists who had the pleasure of reporting from Jerusalem with her. Together we face the brutality of the Israeli military. I feel safe in her presence. She is a tall figure and mentor.

Shireen has never given up on her commitment to journalism, to the city of Jerusalem, to all Palestinians and the Palestinian people at home and abroad. All who knew her spoke fondly of her amazing spirit, her open heart, and her exemplary courage and professionalism in her duties.

Last month, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of Israel’s perpetration of the Jenin refugee camp massacre. A young Shireen was there, reporting from the battle of Jenin. I distinctly remember seeing her report on the TV screen; back in 2002, there were Israeli tanks and houses destroyed in the background.

Twenty years later, we lost Shireen in the same refugee camp, killed by the same invading occupying forces.

Today, every Palestinian family is mourning. Every Palestinian is shocked and is dealing with this huge loss. We Palestinians know death; we know it well. But we do not suffer the pain of losing our loved ones, our heroes, our idols, our future over and over again because of the Israeli occupation. Every time, we feel sad. We mourn, but we also become more determined and determined.

Shireen once said, “Changing reality isn’t easy for me, but the least I can do is make our voices heard around the world.” Throughout her life, Shireen delivered her message and delivered her message in the most powerful way way to speak for the voiceless. We will continue her mission. Soon, Palestine will be free.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial position.

Source link