Israel’s Response to Shireen Abu Akleh’s Death Is a Problem

WOn Wednesday, word spread that Shireen Abu Akleh, a respected Palestinian-American journalist, was shot and killed in Jenin. This West Bank town is where Israeli forces have been conducting military raids on civilians. Israel assembled its National PR team to formulate a plan. It decided to spread the word. a video of a Palestinian gunmen shooting indiscriminately from inside the Jenin refugee camp and blame them for the Al Jazeera reporter’s death. Its strategy was a failure. another videoIt was revealed that Abu Akleh did not die anywhere near the site.

Abu Akleh was a 51-year-old Catholic Palestinian who switched to journalism after studying to be an architect and became one of the Arab world’s most famous TV journalists. For 25 years her image lit up TV screens across the world as she related stories from Palestinians under Israeli military occupation. Arab women and girls looked up to her. Her high reputation was also held by foreign journalists from the Palestinian territory. Now Al Jazeera has accused Israel of “assassinating her in cold blood” and Arab journalists from Washington to Tunisia to Syria are staging sit-ins. Qatar lit up the building in her honor. There are cartoons of Abu Akleh with a bleeding microphone and an M-16 rifle pointed towards it. This is the rifle that Israeli soldiers use. A few Arab parents have named their newborn daughters ‘Shireen.’ Abu Akleh has become a Palestinian symbol.

Continue reading: Here’s What We Know About Shireen Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera Journalist.

To Israel, her death risks damage to essential relationships in the Arab world, while Abu Akleh’s U.S. citizenship brings relations with Washington into the equation, raising both the stakes and the level of scrutiny. The State Department declared ” the investigation must be immediate and thorough and those responsible must be held accountable.”

Deny and deflect is Israel’s usual strategy for dealing with high-profile civilian deaths. Deflective tactics include claiming that the victim was killed by Palestinian gunmen (broadcast examples: James Miller from the UK, Abir Abir Amin of the Palestinian children, a 10-year-old boy, and Abir Aramin who were living in Gaza with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, their three daughters and nieces while he begged Israel to stop shooting live on television). Israel often claims the victim died at the hands of Palestinian gunmen. Israel also claims that the victim was either involved in an attack against Israeli soldiers, or was part of a Palestinian militant group (photojournalist Yaser Mortaja in Gaza). In other cases, Israel said that the facts around a killing are unclear, but definitely not Israel’s fault (Palestinian family killed by shell on beach in Gaza). In the case of the 2003 death of American pro-Palestinian activist, Rachel Corrie, who was run over by a military bulldozer, the Israeli army claimed “a slab of concrete” was likely what killed her. Israel claimed that Hamas was using the 11-story Gaza media building where Palestinian media networks were situated, when it brought down an Israeli missile.

Ehud Olmert was the Israeli prime Minister in 2006. He initially apologized to the Ghalia family for their deaths in Gaza from Israeli artillery. “But the military swiftly realised it was confronting another PR disaster to rival that of the killing of Mohammed al-Dura,” wrote Guardian journalist, Chris McGreal, referencing the wrenching footage of the Gaza boy killed cowering beside his father during a 2000 firefight. “The army quickly convened a committee to investigate the deaths on the beach and almost as swiftly absolved itself of responsibility.”

Within a half hour of Abu Akleh’s killing, the Israeli state PR machine went to work on a deflection strategy. In a Hebrew report about Walla, Barak Ravid (Israeli journalist) revealed the truth. website that “there was an urgent consultation of the National Hasbara (PR) Headquarters together with representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Defense Forces. They decided that the main goal was to try and fend off the narrative that was emerging in the international media, according to which Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire.” (The English version of Ravid’s report on the Axios website did not include this information.) Israel made a video of the incident that Palestinian militants filmed in a residential neighborhood. They were heard to claim that they shot a soldier. Bennett shared the video. He claimed that no Israeli soldier had been injured in Jenin on that day and that the footage showed that Abu Akleh was mistaken for a fighter because of her armored helmet.

Al Jazeera then posted footageAbu Akleh was seen lying on her stomach in an area with less construction. Her colleagues tried to help her, but the bullets kept flying. Her protective gear clearly displayed the word “PRESS” in large letters. “We saw the soldiers in the area and there were no Palestinians there,” said producer Ali Samudi, who was also shot. The soldiers were about 150 meters away….I did not see who was shooting, but I see [sic]They are coming from the area where they came. They came from the same area as the soldiers. There were no fighters in the area.” Two hours later a local researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem filmed a video geolocatingClip of Palestinian gunmen from Jenin refugee camp. It is hundreds of metres away and many turns from Abu Akleh’s spot.

At that point, the U.S. The Ambassador to Israel confirmed Abu Akleh’s citizenship. Biden has been considering visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories this June. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Abu Akleh a “reporting legend.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called her killing a “horrific tragedy.” Congress members Betty McCollumAnd Mark PocanRashida Talib, who condemned the incident, accused Israel of murder. The army quickly backed down from the claim after Israel rallied. On Wednesday evening, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was on a conference call with reporters, saying he was “very sorry for what happened,” that Israel wants to conduct a full-scale investigation and that he had asked the Palestinians to share the bullet that was found embedded in Abu Akleh’s head, promising to share all forensic findings with the Americans and the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians declined, saying they do not trust Israel—a point an Israeli minister appeared to concede in an interview with a Israeli radio outlet on Thursday. “Israel’s credibility is not great in situations like this,” said Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai.

Israel investigates whenever Palestinian Americans are injured by Israeli forces. However, the punishment is rarely severe. In response to a U.S. order, Israel launched an investigation into the death of an elderly Palestinian American citizen. Israeli soldiers took him away in the middle night. Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad had returned to Palestine after living in Milwaukee for almost 40 years. After being beaten by soldiers, he was left on the ground with his hands tied and eyes closed, suffering a cardiac arrest. He was confronted by the top officer of the unit, but the soldiers weren’t punished. A police officer from Israel beat Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, to death in 2014. He then placed him under house arrest. Video captured the attack. But it wasn’t until it was revealed that he was a U.S. citizen that he was allowed to return to Florida and Israel opened an investigation, at the demand of Washington. A judge in Israel sentenced him to community service. The State Department was disappointed.

Abu Akleh was killed just days after the International Federation of Journalists, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) filed a formal complaint at The Hague for “systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists.” An estimated 50 Palestinian journalists have been killed since 2000, according to the PJS. Israeli forces have a “track record of employing lethal force and systematically targeting Palestinian journalists with complete lack of accountability,” said the ICJP. This was four years ago. Haaretz journalist Amira Hass uncovered court files that revealed that in 2012 Israeli soldiers beat Palestinian journalists with batons and arrested them, on their commanders’ orders, with the declared intention of disrupting their coverage of a Palestinian demonstration. In August 2012, seven Palestinian journalists covered peaceful demonstrations in South Hebron Hills. Israel stated that the Gaza City Media Building was bombed by Israel during its May 2021 war because Hamas was using the building. It did not produce any evidence. The devastating strike had also the impact of disallowing reporting from Gaza where 254 people died. Treisteen Israelis were also killed.

In Jenin, where Israeli forces were carrying out anti-terrorism operations after a spate of fatal attacks on Israeli Jews, hundreds of Palestinians carried Abu Akleh’s corpse from the morgue, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, her press flak jacket laid over her chest. IPriests prayed Her body. The state marched band received the body in Ramallah. On Thursday, a state funeral took place with the burial at Mt. Zion in Jerusalem was the funeral.

Hours after she was killed, Israeli police shot and severely injured a young Palestinian who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and charged at them in the Old City. He was not asked by police if he had any weapons, nor were there injuries to the officers. In East Jerusalem Israeli police stormed Abu Akleh’s home,Demanding her friends and family to remove the Palestinian flag form the building. They were shouted at by others until they left. One of the Palestinian flag-wielding demonstrators was seen outside, while another one stood in front. attaching a flagDetained by an Israeli police officer for getting in a car with Israeli officers. Surprisingly, the Israeli police didn’t intervene using force.

On Thursday the following day, anonymous Israeli officials stated to reporters that soldiers riding in a military vehicle were approximately 150 yards away from journalists’ work areas. They also fired several shots at Abu Akleh, who was still alive.

Simmone Shah/New York reporting

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