Bullet That Killed Al Jazeera Journalist Becomes Center of Contention: Live Updates - The New York Times


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Via:  jbb  •  2 weeks ago  •  2 comments

By:   Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu (nytimes)

Bullet That Killed Al Jazeera Journalist Becomes Center of Contention: Live Updates - The New York Times
The Palestinian Authority said it would not give Israeli officials the bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank during an Israeli raid. It said Israel could not be trusted to investigate the shooting.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The Palestinian Authority said it would not give Israeli officials the bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank during an Israeli raid. It said Israel could not be trusted to investigate the shooting.

The bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh becomes a central point of contention.

ImagePalestinians taking part in a demonstration in Gaza City on Thursday over the death of the veteran Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

JERUSALEM — The bullet that killed the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Wednesday has become the central point of contention between competing efforts by Israelis and Palestinians to investigate who shot her.

The Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that it had declined a request to give Israeli officials the bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera who was killed in the occupied West Bank during an Israeli raid.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian official who helps oversee the authority's relationship with the Israeli government, said it would investigate Ms. Abu Akleh's death independently, rejecting Israeli calls for a joint inquiry and for the bullet to be assessed in an Israeli laboratory. Mr. al-Sheikh also accused Israeli soldiers of killing Ms. Abu Akleh, dismissing Israeli claims that the journalist may have been hit by Palestinian fire.

Palestinian officials say that Israel cannot be trusted to investigate the killing, while Israeli officials say that the Palestinians are refusing to provide the bullet in order to obscure its origin.

Mr. al-Sheikh's comments came as Palestinians gathered in Ramallah, the authority's administrative hub in the West Bank, for Ms. Abu Akleh's funeral procession, which winded through the city toward the headquarters of the authority's president, Mahmoud Abbas.

"This crime cannot pass without punishment," Mr. Abbas said in an address in front of her coffin. He also awarded her the Star of Jerusalem, or Al-Quds Star, an honor typically bestowed on ministers, ambassadors and members of Parliament.

The bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh has become the focus of two competing narratives about the circumstances of her death. Its shape could reveal the gun that fired it, and its condition may contain signs about the direction and distance it was fired from.

Palestinian officials have conducted an autopsy of Ms. Abu Akleh's body, but had not released its findings by Thursday morning.

A veteran and widely admired journalist for Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned news channel, Ms. Abu Akleh was fatally shot early Wednesday in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank managed by the Palestinian Authority.

She had been covering clashes between Palestinian militants and the Israeli military, which has been conducting regular raids in Jenin since March after several recent attacks on Israelis by Palestinian residents of the area.

Al Jazeera executives and witnesses said that Israeli soldiers had fatally shot Ms. Abu Akleh in a part of Jenin where no clashes were taking place, and where there were no nearby Palestinian militants. She and several other journalists at the scene were wearing blue flak jackets and helmets marked with the word "Press."

Israeli officials said that clashes had been taking place in the area where she was killed, and that she might have been killed during crossfire, by either Palestinian or Israeli forces.

Benny Gantz, the Israeli defense minister, said in a news briefing on Wednesday night that the Israeli military's initial investigations "cannot indicate what gunfire was directed at Shireen, and I cannot exclude any option under this operational chaos that was on the ground."

Mr. Gantz added: "It can be Palestinians who shot her. Tragically, it may be on our side. We are investigating it."

Video filmed by a bystander depicting the moments after Ms. Abu Akleh's death showed the journalist slumped face down, but it did not show the moment of her death or who had shot at her.

The Israeli government circulated a second video on Wednesday morning that showed Palestinian gunmen in a different part of Jenin firing down an alley, and a voice saying in Arabic: "They've hit one — they've hit a soldier. He's lying on the ground."

Although the video was shot in a different part of Jenin, the Israeli government said it suggested that Palestinian militants elsewhere in the city had mistakenly killed Ms. Abu Akleh, thinking she was an Israeli soldier. No Israeli soldier was killed on Wednesday.

— Patrick Kingsley

'The bullet killed a piece of all of us': Palestinians lament a journalist's death.

ImageMahmoud Abbas, center, the president of the Palestinian Authority, at a funeral procession for Shireen Abu Akleh in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Thursday.Credit...Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinians from all realms of society gathered in the courtyard of the Palestinian Authority's presidential headquarters on Thursday to eulogize and bid farewell to a trailblazing journalist: those who had worked alongside her, those she had interviewed and those whose homes she had entered via the television screen. Palestinian Christian and Muslim clerics converged as well.

Many held up posters with a picture of the slain Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, in a blue press protective vest — much like the one she was wearing when she was fatally shot on Wednesday morning — and the words "The coverage will continue."

As the coffin holding her body was carried into the courtyard, people chanted, "With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you, Shireen."

One woman tried shouting a more traditionally nationalistic chant: "With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice for you, Palestine." But no one else joined in.

This moment was for Ms. Abu Akleh.

The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, spoke in front of her coffin, which was draped in a Palestinian flag — and he awarded her the Star of Jerusalem, also known as the Quds Star. One of the highest honors the Palestinian president can bestow, it is traditionally awarded to ministers, ambassadors and members of Parliament.

"We have decided to award the martyr with the Star of Jerusalem," he said to applause and some cheers.

"This crime cannot pass without punishment," he said of Ms. Abu Akleh's killing. "Note that we have rejected and we reject a joint investigation with the Israeli state, because it is the one that committed this crime, and because we don't trust them, and we will go immediately to the International Criminal Court to pursue the criminals."

He described her as a "martyr for truth and for the free word."

After his remarks, Ms. Abu Akleh's coffin was carried into a waiting ambulance to be taken to Jerusalem, where a family funeral will be held on Friday. She is due to be buried in an Orthodox cemetery, next to her mother and near her father.

As the gathered mourners followed her coffin out of the courtyard, many continued to chant as others shared their memories of Ms. Abu Akleh — even if from afar.

"When we saw that Shireen had been assassinated, we all felt it, in every Palestinian home," said Thuraya Elayan, a 66-year-old Ramallah resident. "The bullet didn't just kill Shireen — the bullet killed a piece of all of us. She was a symbol, and she lived inside all of our homes."

Ms. Elayan said that she wanted to attend the funeral in Jerusalem, but that she feared that the checkpoint between there and Ramallah could suddenly close, leaving her stranded. Such a concern also kept Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank and inside Israel from attending the funeral, she said.

"An entire generation grew up on Shireen's voice and her reports," she said.

Some were just starting to watch her on the screen.

Salma Dideen, 6, sat on her uncle's shoulder, wearing a blue frilly dress, holding a poster of Ms. Abu Akleh and mouthing some of the chants.

When asked why she had wanted to attend, she said in a voice barely audible above the chants, "Because Shireen was martyred."

Her uncle expanded on the sentiment.

"We are here as solidarity with Shireen," said her uncle, Mahmoud Husseini, 30. "She is a daughter of the nation. She always put herself in danger just to convey the stories of Palestinians."

— Raja Abdulrahim

Continue reading the main story

In pictures: Mourning, protests and a mural after Shireen Abu Akleh's death.

Credit...Clockwise from top left: Nasser Nasser/Associated Press (2), Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, and Sedat Suna/EPA, via Shutterstock

Palestinians gathered in grief and fury on Thursday to honor Shireen Abu Akleh, the veteran Palestinian broadcaster slain on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank.

Witnesses said she had been shot by Israeli snipers during an Israeli raid on Jenin, in the northern West Bank, while Israeli officials said they were unsure whether she was killed by Israeli soldiers or Palestinian militants.

Thousands lined the streets of Ramallah, an administrative hub in the West Bank, to witness Ms. Abu Akleh's funeral procession. A trumpet player gave her a final salute, and an honor guard carried her coffin, draped with a Palestinian flag, through the city.

To many Palestinians, Ms. Abu Akleh was an icon of Palestinian broadcasting, and her funeral procession was akin to a day of national mourning.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, which manages part of the West Bank, eulogized her during an official ceremony at his presidential headquarters, where Palestinian guards placed a large wreath on her coffin.

Veteran Palestinian journalists broke down in tears as they walked behind the coffin, remembering a colleague considered a voice of her generation.

In the blockaded Gaza Strip, mourners honored Ms. Abu Akleh by painting a mural in her memory.

Further afield, demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul to protest her killing.

— Patrick Kingsley

The killing occurred amid weeks of violence.

ImagePalestinian demonstrators clashing with the Israeli police at the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem in April.Credit...Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh came amid weeks of violence in which Arab assailants have carried out fatal attacks in several Israeli cities, prompting the Israeli military to step up what it described as counterterrorist operations in the occupied West Bank, causing additional deaths.

Recently, during the holy month of Ramadan, Palestinian protesters and Israeli police officers repeatedly clashed at a holy site in Jerusalem revered by Muslims as the Aqsa Mosque compound and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

The Israeli Army has focused arrest raids in and around Jenin, where Ms. Abu Akleh was killed on Wednesday. Some of the Palestinians suspected of perpetrating the recent attacks hailed from Jenin and its refugee camp, long hotbeds of militancy in the northern West Bank.

The two Palestinian men accused of carrying out an ax attack that killed three Israeli civilians last week in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish town of Elad came from Rumana, part of the Jenin district. Israeli troops raided the village on Sunday night, arresting two people. The military said they were suspected of assisting the assailants.

The wave of attacks began in late March, when a Palestinian man from the West Bank who sympathized with the Islamic State fatally stabbed a Moldovan worker in an apartment in Jerusalem, apparently mistaking him for an Israeli Jew, according to the police.

Since then, Arab assailants have carried out fatal attacks in the Israeli cities of Beersheba, Hadera, Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak, in addition to Elad. Palestinian gunmen also killed an Israeli guard at the entrance of Ariel, a large Jewish settlement in the heart of the West Bank.

At least 19 people — 16 Israelis and three foreign workers — have been killed in attacks by Arabs since late March, according to the Israeli authorities.

During the same period, more than 30 Palestinians have been killed, according to local news reports. Most were involved in attacks, attempted attacks or confrontations with Israeli forces, according to official Israeli accounts, though some were unarmed or apparently caught in crossfire.

— Isabel Kershner

Continue reading the main story

Video captures the moments after Shireen Abu Akleh was shot.

VideoShireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.CreditCredit...Al Jazeera, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Video broadcast by Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh's employer, captures the sound of gunfire and yelling as Ms. Abu Akleh and her colleagues came under fire while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
The footage does not show the moment when Ms. Abu Akleh was shot, but after audible gunfire in the first few seconds, a man can be heard yelling: "Ambulance! Ambulance!"
The filmer moves closer, and Ms. Abu Akleh is seen lying motionless face down as a man and another journalist, identified by the network as Shatha Hanaysha, try to reach Ms. Abu Akleh but are forced back by gunfire.
In the footage, both women are wearing protective vests marked "Press" and helmets.

Another Al Jazeera journalist in the group, Ali Samoudi, was also shot in the back. From the hospital, he said that they were clearly identified as journalists before the attack. "We were obvious," he said.
Crowds gathered in multiple cities in the West Bank on Wednesday to mourn and protest Ms. Abu Akleh's killing. A funeral procession was being held on Thursday.

— Sarah Kerr

2022 is shaping up to be a deadly year for journalists.

ImageA journalist mourning next to the body of Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin in the West Bank on Wednesday.Credit...Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

This year has been a particularly deadly one for media professionals around the world.

At least 27 journalists have been killed while on the job or for reasons connected to their journalistic activities since Jan. 1, including seven in Ukraine and eight in Mexico, according to Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog group that campaigns for press freedom.

The Committee to Protect Journalists puts the figure slightly higher, reporting that 29 journalists and media workers have been killed this year.

The spate of deaths — by murder, crossfire or during a dangerous assignment — is on track to outpace killings in recent years. Since 2019, about 50 journalists have been killed each year, according to both organizations.

In the past two decades, 24 journalists have been killed in Israel and the occupied territories, at least 14 of them because they were caught in crossfire, according to the database maintained by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The deadliest stretch was during Israel's bloody invasion of Gaza in the summer of 2014, when seven journalists were killed in July and August.

— Victoria Kim

Continue reading the main story

The veteran journalist 'chose journalism to be close to people.'

ImageShireen Abu Akleh, reporting in Jerusalem for Al Jazeera, was one of the best known Palestinian journalists.Credit... via Agence France-Presse

JERUSALEM — Shireen Abu Akleh originally studied to be an architect but could not see a future for herself in the field. So she decided to go into journalism instead, becoming one of the best-known Palestinian journalists.

"I chose journalism to be close to the people," she said in a short reel shared by Al Jazeera soon after she was killed on Wednesday by gunfire in the West Bank. "It might not be easy to change the reality, but at least I was able to bring their voice to the world."

A Palestinian American, Ms. Abu Akleh, 51, was a familiar face on the Al Jazeera network, where she spent 25 years reporting, making her name amid the violence of the Palestinian uprising known as the second intifada, which convulsed Israel and the occupied West Bank beginning in 2000.

She was shot in the head in the West Bank city of Jenin, Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Health Ministry said, blaming Israeli forces for her death. The Israeli military said on Twitter that "Palestinian armed gunfire" might have been responsible.

Mohammed Daraghmeh, the Ramallah bureau chief for the Arabic language news outlet Asharq News, who was friends with Ms. Abu Akleh for many years, said she had remained committed to covering all issues affecting the Palestinians, big and small.

He had last spoken with her two days earlier, he said on Wednesday, and told her that he did not think the events in Jenin were important enough for a journalist as senior as her to cover.

"But she went anyway," he said. "She covered the story the way it should be done."

It was not the biggest or political stories that most interested Ms. Abu Akleh, but the smaller ones that showed how people lived, said Wessam Hammad, a news producer with Al Jazeera, who worked with her for 17 years. He said she would see a story where others would not.

"Sometimes I would say, 'No, Shireen forget it, it's not a big story.'" he said. "But she would always think about so many different angles on how we could do it, and how can we make it a very human and a very touching story about Palestinians that no other journalist would ever think to do."

ImageMs. Abu Akleh was venerated as a martyr by women in Hebron on Wednesday.Credit...Hazem Bader/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Born in Jerusalem to a Catholic family, Ms. Abu Akleh studied in Jordan, graduating with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She spent time in the United States when she was younger and obtained U.S. citizenship through family on her mother's side, who lived in New Jersey, friends and colleagues said.

Al Jazeera said that after graduating from college, she worked for several media outlets, including Voice of Palestine radio and the Amman Satellite Channel, before joining Al Jazeera in 1997. She soon became a household name among Palestinians and Arabs across the Middle East, inspiring many to follow in her path.

Her live television reporting and signoffs became iconic for those who wanted to emulate her, said Dalia Hatuqa, a Palestinian American journalist and friend of Ms. Abu Akleh's.

"I know of a lot of girls who grew up basically standing in front of a mirror and holding their hair brushes and pretending to be Shireen," Ms. Hatuqa said. "That's how lasting and important her presence was."

Among them was her 27-year-old niece, Lina Abu Akleh. As a young girl, she would take her aunt's written reports and recite them into her pink Barbie phone.

"I always told her, 'I don't know if I have the courage and strength that you do,' and she would say it's not easy, it's a very hard job," Lina Abu Akleh said.

Her death also illustrated the dangers Palestinian journalists face doing their jobs, whether in the occupied West Bank, in Gaza or inside Israel, she said.

In a 2017 interview with the Palestinian television channel An-Najah NBC, she was asked whether she was ever afraid of being shot.

"Of course I get scared," she said. "In a specific moment you forget that fear. We don't throw ourselves to death. We go and we try to find where we can stand and how to protect the team with me before I think about how I am going to go up on the screen and what I am going to say."

The Palestinian Authority's ambassador to Britain, Husam Zomlot, called her the "most prominent Palestinian journalist."

ImageWomen lighting candles in memory of Ms. Abu Akleh in Bethlehem on Wednesday.Credit...Hazem Bader/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Abu Akleh family became known widely in Palestinian society because of Ms. Abu Akleh.

"Everyone knows who Shireen is," said her cousin, Fadi Abu Akleh. "Whenever I introduce myself people ask me, 'How is Shireen related to you?'"

She lived in Ramallah, West Bank and Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, she lived with her brother and his family, including two nieces and a nephew, to whom she was very devoted, her cousin said.

"She was my best friend, my second mom, my travel companion," Lina Abu Akleh said. "She was my everything."

Their last trip together was to New York to spend the Christmas holidays with relatives in the United States.

Ms. Abu Akleh recently spent several weeks in the United States, returning to Ramallah about a month ago. But she never seems to have thought seriously about living in the United States, Mr. Daraghmeh said.

Al Jazeera once sent her to the United States to work. After three months, she returned to Ramallah.

"When she got back, she said: 'I can breathe now. Everything in the U.S. is technical and complicated,'" Mr. Daraghmeh recalled. "'Here life is simple. I love Palestine. I want to stay here.'"

A state funeral procession was held on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, departing from the presidential headquarters and with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in attendance.

She will be buried on Friday in Jerusalem in a cemetery next to her mother.

"Shireen was a trailblazer," Ms. Hatuqa said. "I'm just sad that she won't be around to continue to lead in this industry."

Raja Abdulrahim reported from Jerusalem, and Ben Hubbard from Doha, Qatar. Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting from Nazareth, Israel. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

— Raja Abdulrahim and Ben Hubbard


jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JBB    2 weeks ago

A Palestinian American, Shireen Abu Aklej, was reporting for Al Jazeera News in the West Bank where she was shot and killed during an Israeli Defense Forces raid. The fatal shooting is being investigated by both Israel and Palestinian authorities...

Junior Principal
2  Gsquared    2 weeks ago

When a party withholds evidence, certain inferences may be drawn against that party.


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