The trade union movement in the MENA region and around the world is saddened by the terrible loss of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who worked for Al Jazeera Network for over two decades. She was shot dead by Israeli soldiers while covering their raid on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, in the early morning of May 11.
According to a statement published by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Israeli army attributed her death to fire from Palestinian forces in a clash with Israeli soldiers. However, Al Jazeera’s Ramallah bureau chief Walid al-Omary said there had been no shooting by Palestinian gunmen. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) said that this crime was “deliberate and planned to assassinate her“.
There are a few testimonies from the journalists who were with her when she was killed, saying that they were moving as a group, all wearing journalists’ gear and clearly identified when they were shot at by Israeli snipers, they were the only group in the street. There were no demonstrators or exchange of fire.
Al Jazeera producer, Ali Samoudi, was also shot in the back with a live bullet. Samoudi is reported to be in stable condition.
Shireen is remembered as a pioneer in a generation that broke stereotypical gender roles in TV journalism. She was one of the first Arab women war correspondents in the late 1990s when the traditional role of women journalists was restricted to newsrooms and TV screens.
The Global Unions signing to this statement condemn the killing of Abu Akleh by the Israeli army and demand an independent investigation and that the perpetrator be brought to justice. Attacks on Palestinian journalists and media workers by Israeli army have been going on for years with impunity. International community has to demand justice to the families and colleagues of journalists that have been attacked. Freedom of press is important to all of us to leave this case in silence.
We also support the IFJ’s recently submitted case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging that Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and failure to properly investigate killing of media workers amount war crimes.