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Journalist killed in Israeli operation in the West Bank, calls for a transparent investigation

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Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of “deliberately” and “cold blooded” killing of its star journalist, who was shot in the head. Israeli authorities have insisted they do not know who killed the journalist, after suggesting earlier that she was “probably” hit by gunfire from Palestinian fighters on the sidelines of clashes in Jenin.

Calls for a transparent investigation grew after Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, one of Al Jazeera’s best-known journalists, was shot and killed Wednesday morning while covering an Israeli army operation in the West Bank busy. Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of “deliberately” and “cold blooded” killing of its star journalist, who was shot in the head. Israeli authorities have insisted they do not know who killed the journalist, after suggesting earlier that she was “probably” hit by gunfire from Palestinian fighters on the sidelines of clashes in Jenin.

An AFP photographer in Jenin reported Israeli army fire and saw the body of the reporter, who was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest with the word “press” written on it. This photographer said he did not see any Palestinian fighters near where the journalist was killed. Another journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, injured in the clashes, accused the Israeli army of opening fire on the journalists: “We were on our way to cover the army operation when they opened fire on us (…) One bullet hit me. The second bullet hit Shireen.”

Shot in the back of the head

Shireen Abu Akleh “went around in a panic” when her colleague Ali al-Samoudi was shot, and then she herself was shot in the back of the head, Majid Awais told AFP. witness to the scene. The Israeli army said it carried out operations in the Jenin refugee camp in order to “apprehend” a fighter. During this operation, “dozens of Palestinian armed men opened fire and threw explosive objects in the direction of the Israeli forces (…) The soldiers responded. People were injured”, according to the army.

“It seems likely that armed Palestinians are responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in the morning, the Ministry of Defense indicating that “there had been no shooting (of the ‘army) in the direction of the journalist”. And the Israeli authorities had distributed a video showing Palestinian fighters opening fire in the Jenin camp, but these images were shot more than 300 meters from the place of the journalist’s death, at the exit of the camp. In the evening, however, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the foreign press that the army “was not sure how she was killed”.

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“It may have been a Palestinian who shot her (…) the shot may also have come from our side, we are investigating,” said Benny Gantz.

A star goes out

According to Palestinian pathologist Rayyan Ali, who was able to examine the body, the journalist was killed by a bullet that hit her “at high speed” in the head. “We need forensic evidence” from the Palestinians, including the bullet or bullet fragments that killed the Al Jazeera reporter, in order to carry out a “full” investigation, added Benny Gantz. Palestinian Christian, aged about fifty and also having American nationality, Shireen Abu Akleh had worked at “The Voice of Palestine”, Radio Monte-Carlo, before joining Al Jazeera, where she made herself known. across the Middle East for his reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Wednesday, Palestinians laid flowers on the side of the road as the car passing by transporting the remains of the journalist to the West Bank, the seventh reporter killed in the Palestinian Territories since 2018, according to Reporters Without Borders. Shireen Abu Akleh is due to receive a posthumous tribute late Thursday morning at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah (West Bank). Al Jazeera claimed that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed “in cold blood” and “deliberately” by Israeli forces, and “condemned this heinous crime, which aims to prevent the media from doing their job”. The Qatari channel’s bureau chief in the Palestinian Territories, Waleed Omari, accused Israel of “protecting its soldiers”.

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Who will investigate?

The group of Arab countries at the UN has called for “an independent international investigation” into the “assassination” of the journalist, announced the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour. The Association of Foreign Press Reporters in Israel and the Palestinian Territories said it was “horrified and shocked” by the journalist’s death, calling for a “swift and transparent” investigation along the lines of the Committee for the Protection journalists. The United States has called for a “transparent” investigation, preferably joint between Israelis and Palestinians, while the UN and the European Union have urged an “independent” investigation.

Israel has offered the Palestinians a “joint investigation”, but the Palestinian government is calling for an “international investigation”, spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told AFP. The death of Shireen Abu Akleh comes in a tense climate, a year after the last war in Gaza between the Jewish state and the Islamist Hamas, which controls the Palestinian enclave under Israeli blockade. Since March 22, Israel has been the target of a series of attacks that have killed at least 18 people. In the aftermath, 31 Palestinians, including assailants, were killed in various incidents, including a young man on Wednesday near Ramallah.

On Wednesday evening, clashes pitted Palestinians against Israeli police in Beit Hanina, an East Jerusalem neighborhood where the journalist’s family lives, while a Palestinian who attacked a policeman in the Old City was seriously injured by the forces. Israelis, according to the police.

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