Two weeks after the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the commotion is still high: the streets of Jenin, Gaza and Jerusalem are covered with murals dedicated to her, hundreds of articles continue to be published in the Arab press or on social networks. while the newspaper Al Quds collected dozens of cartoons dedicated to his death.
Electronic music group 47 soul made a powerful video titled Shireen, while on satellite TV the repeating special editions trace the journalist’s thirty years of professional life.
The writer Majed Kili explains on the Daraj website this emotion shared by all Palestinians, telling that the journalist immediately became an icon “on a par with personalities like Yasser Arafat or the poet Mahmoud Darwish” as her figure unites all Palestinians, beyond of ideological, religious or political divisions: “This woman, daughter of a Christian family from Bethlehem who lived in Jerusalem and was killed, or rather was the victim of an execution, in Jenin, a camp that symbolizes the suffering of an entire refugee population , was greeted by all of Palestine, without distinction, without divisions ”.
Immediately after her killing, Al Jazeera released a statement accusing Israeli security forces of “deliberately” targeting Abu Akleh and killing her “in cold blood”. The TV later released videos attesting to the absence of clashes at the place where the journalist died.
Israeli army spokespeople first denied, only to announce that Israel would not open an investigation into Abu Akleh’s murder, as prosecutors said there was no irregular action by Israeli soldiers, and finally proposed an investigation. shared with the Palestinians. For the international community it is not enough: the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution calling for an “immediate, thorough, transparent and impartial” investigation.
Two independent investigations
In this tragedy, the power of the media is emerging: while the opening of an investigation is being discussed, colleagues in the international press have gone to work. The Associated Press published an investigation and explained that it had to be carried out because “when a Palestinian is hit, Israeli investigations drag on for months or years before being quietly closed.” The PA met with many witnesses and compared the numerous videos published on social media that day, crossing them with the analysis carried out by the investigative journalism group Bellingcat. According to the reconstruction, the journalist, along with other colleagues, was walking in the direction of an Israeli patrol along a wide and highly visible road and wearing a jacket with the words Press and a helmet. There were no clashes or armed Palestinian militants nearby. The shots were sudden, as he also testifies a video.
Even the reconstruction of CNN is practically an indictment accompanied by evidence: the videos of the shooting scene published by the US channel confirm that there were no Palestinian fights or militants near Abu Akleh in the moments before his death: “The videos obtained by CNN are corroborated by the testimony of eight eyewitnesses, a forensic audio analyst and an explosive weapons expert. The investigative investigation is without appeal and suggests that Abu Akleh was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces ”. CNN was also able to view the footage of the Israeli military’s body cams, determining their location and establishing which weapons they were in possession that day.
The Israeli army said it could not pursue the investigation without analyzing the bullet that hit the journalist, which the Palestinians refuse to deliver. On this subject CNN says: “Even without accessing the bullet that hit Abu Akleh, there are ways to determine who killed her by analyzing the type of shots, the sounds and marks left by the bullets on the scene.”
American television asked Chris Cobb-Smith, a security consultant and veteran of the British army, to examine the images obtained by CNN, which show the marks of the bullets left on the tree where Abu Akleh fell and where his young colleague Shatha Hanaysha was taking shelter. The analysis confirms that “the journalist was killed by sniper shots and not by a barrage of automatic shots. Instead, most of the Palestinian shots captured on camera that same day came from automatic weapons ”.
But the shock and the media hype did not stop. The power of information was revealed in the live TV broadcast of Abu Akleh’s funeral: millions of viewers were also witnesses of unprecedented violence. The procession was attacked by the Israeli police and the coffin did not fall only thanks to the tenacity of the bearers, as can be seen very well in the videos. One of the porters, Amro Abu Khdeir, filmed being beaten, was arrested three days later by the Israeli police for “belonging to a terrorist organization”.
Unfortunately, the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, while unprecedented for the emotion it aroused, is not isolated. Palestinian journalists pay a heavy price for their work. According to the International Federation of Journalists (Ifj), Israeli forces have killed at least 46 Palestinian journalists since 2000, while Reporters Without Borders has recorded more than 140 Israeli abuses against Palestinian journalists since protests began in Gaza in March of. 2018. Palestinians therefore no longer believe in Israeli justice: “Why should we expect Israel to investigate Shireen’s death thoroughly? The data speaks for itself. Israel should play no role in an investigation into Shireen’s murder”, explains writer Jalal Abukhater.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty international or Human rights watch have documented in their recent reports on apartheid in Israel that military investigations “almost never succeed”.
The appeal to the International Criminal Court remains.
On April 25, 2022, a group of human rights organizations led by the Ifj had already filed a complaint alleging that Israeli security forces have committed war crimes against Palestinian journalists. Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al Maliki recently stated that the Authority took the case of the Al Jazeera journalist’s death to the court’s prosecutor’s office.
Israeli army spokesman Ran Kochav caused a sensation when he declared, after the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, that Palestinian journalists “are armed with cameras, if you allow me to say”.
If interpreted as a paradoxical homage to investigative journalism and the search for truth, we could say that he was not entirely wrong.