According to Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Health Ministry, Israeli soldiers assassinated a Palestinian American journalist working for the Al Jazeera news network in the West Bank early Wednesday morning. According to Israeli officials, the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered in an exchange of gunfire, although they have not identified who fired the fatal shot.
According to witness testimonies, Abu Akleh, 51, a longstanding Al Jazeera correspondent and prominent presence on Arab television screens, was shot in the neck while documenting Israeli incursions in the Jenin refugee camp.
Al Jazeera alleged that Israeli forces murdered Abu Akleh "in cold blood," and he wore a press jacket that identified her as a journalist. Many eyewitnesses, including two journalists standing next to Abu Akleh, refuted Israeli claims that she was killed in crossfire, stating that there had been no fighting in the area before Abu Akleh's death.
Ali al-Samudi, one of the journalists who was also injured by gunfire, told The Washington Post from his hospital bed, "It was dead quiet,"
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that the shooting occurred when the Israel Defense Forces were conducting counterterrorism operations in Jenin, following a spate of deadly attacks in Israeli cities in recent weeks. He stated during the process, "Palestinians with weapons were shot in an erroneous, indiscriminate, and uncontrolled manner.
"Our IDF forces returned fire with as much precision, care, and responsibility as possible. Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera, was tragically slain in the exchange ". "Without a thorough investigation, we cannot discover the truth."
However, according to five witnesses questioned by The Post at the scene, the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians occurred hundreds of meters away from where the journalists were gathered and stopped well before two of them were shot.
Ahmad Al Husari, referring to Abu Akleh, stated, "Down where the girl was killed, there was no confrontation at all," According to Husari and his neighbors, his home was the target of Israeli military operations and the epicenter of early-morning combat.
According to IDF spokesperson Ran Kochav, Israel's initial claim that there was a "high degree of probability" that Abu Akleh was killed by Palestinian fire was modified in the following hours. "At this point, it is impossible to determine the source of the gunfire that hit her," IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said in a video statement issued on Wednesday evening.
In a statement issued to reporters, a senior Israeli source explained that the military's judgment was based on camera footage of a gunman saying in Arabic, "We hit a soldier; he's on the ground." Wednesday's fighting in Jenin left no Israeli soldiers injured, according to the Israeli military, and the Palestinians in the video may have been referring to Abu Akleh.
Wednesday's video posted to the Twitter account of the Israeli Foreign Ministry did not indicate when it was recorded. A field researcher from the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem in Jenin provided reporters with a map showing the site of Abu Akleh's murder and the events depicted in the video released by Israeli officials.
The map locations were approximately 289 meters apart, as determined by GPS data and aerial photographs. Reporters from the Post in Jenin who visited the site of the conflict confirmed the approximate distance between the two locations and the presence of a large number of buildings and fortifications. Near the location where Abu Akleh was killed, they discovered an airier stretch of vacant lots, a cemetery, and an open-air concrete block workshop, but nothing resembling the video's depiction of a tight maze of passageways.
Washington officials expressed instant worry about the incident. In a tweet, State Department spokesperson Ned Price stated that the United States "strongly" denounced the killing of Abu Akleh and that "the investigation must be immediate and thorough and those responsible must be held accountable."
Samudi, a seasoned journalist who also writes for the Jerusalem-based weekly al-Quds, stated that he and Abu Akleh were standing several hundred meters away from the house where Israeli soldiers attempted an arrest. His shoulder was bandaged, and dark bloodstains were apparent on the "press"-marked bullet-resistant vest next to him. He had been working with Abu Akleh as a producer on Wednesday.
According to him, they were alone with four or five other Palestinian journalists, all of whom had protective gear identifying them.
He stated that the journalists were near Israeli military vehicles and moved slowly to identify them as media. He said that he did not observe any additional Palestinian civilians or fighters.
Samudi reported hearing a single gunshot close enough to listen to the bullet speed by. He turned and ran before being struck in the upper left-back.
"Ali has been shot!' I heard Shireen scream. Ali has been wounded!' "He stated. Then they fired upon Shireen, and he was clear that the group was not stuck between military and extremists.
"There were no fighters where we were, none at all," he stated. "We do not place ourselves in harm's way. Whatever the Israeli army orders us to do, we do it out. They fired directly and deliberately at us."
Another journalist, 29-year-old Shatha Hanaysha, reported that the group was in an open area "about ten minutes to ensure that the Israeli army can identify us as journalists.
People informed her there were Israeli snipers on the rooftops, but she did not see any. "It was pretty peaceful, and no risk existed in our neighborhood.
She stated that no firefight was occurring around them, only random individual bullets. "At the sound of the gunshot, everyone fled towards a wall. But Shireen and I were unable to scale the mountain "She stated, "Shireen was yelling, "Ali has been shot!" Then she slumped to the ground. I attempted to assist her, but I was unable to."
While pointing to her neck, "She was shot," By Wednesday afternoon, fresh flowers and olive branches had already covered Abu Akeel's pool of drying blood.
Several refugee camp inhabitants verified that Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants had engaged in early-morning fighting.
The corridor of the residence of Husari, a 47-year-old fruit merchant, was riddled with bullet holes and coated with broken glass. Empty stun grenades were discarded on the street outside. He stated that Israeli troops broke into his home at about 5 a.m. "They were after my son," Husari said.
Husari and another neighbor report that Palestinian militants arrived twenty minutes later. Husari reported that Palestinians and Israelis traded fire until approximately 6.30 a.m., after which the neighborhood regained calm. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Abu Akleh was shot shortly before 7 a.m.
Abu Akleh was one of the most prominent Palestinian journalists and a seasoned reporter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 1997, she became one of the network's first field correspondents when joining Al Jazeera. Since then, her voice, appearance, and reporting have become a staple for Palestinian viewers.
"Shireen was a brave, kind, & high-integrity journalist that millions of Palestinians and I grew up watching," tweeted Palestinian activist Fadi Quran, headquartered in Ramallah. "A tragedy."