The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh was not only a tragedy. It was also a statement. If Israeli Defense Forces can kill up to 50 Palestinian journalists in the last 20 years, they could also murder a worldwide-known, the best known journalist covering Palestine. And had this been not enough, Israeli police could also violate her funeral, brutally batoning people carrying her coffin. Yes, it all happened over last days.
Comment by Wojciech Łobodziński
On Wednesday, 11 May, the IDF shot Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank, according to witnesses and the Palestinian health ministry. She was killed while doing her journalist job for Al Jazeera – precisely, covering an illegal Israeli army raid in the city of Jenin in the northern part of the West Bank.
Taken to the local hospital in critical condition, she was declared dead shortly after, according to the Palestinian health ministry. When shot, Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest and was standing along with other journalists. What is more, she was not the only one shot. Another Al Jazeera journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was also wounded by a bullet in the back at the scene. He survived and his condition is now described as stable.
As we know so far, thanks to the medicine department at al-Najah University in Nablus, Abu Akleh was shot in the head. Her body was autopsied on an order from the public prosecution, run by the Israeli officials, without any collaboration from the Palestinian side.
Of course, Israeli representatives say that it was not an IDF soldier who shot the fatal bullet. But what else could they say? It goes without saying that they will not point fingers at themselves.
Shireen Abu Akleh was the icon of reportage and journalism for Palestinians, for many other Arabic viewers, and for everyone who has been watching the news about Palestine and Israeli occupation. Fearless and faithful to journalist principles, she was the one that was always there, where the truth had to be shown for the world. Even if the world preferred not to watch.
Those for whom the whole event might seem extremely shocking, might wonder now: what if she would have been a BBC or CNN journalist? Forget it. She could not have been one of them. For the simplest of reasons: they are never there.
Yet, there are reasons to be shocked. Every single Palestinian knows the name of Shireen Abu Akleh. Some Palestinian nationals, whose families had been expelled from their land, whose ancestors or relatives have fought against Israeli apartheid, have only known their motherland just because of her. Because of Shireen and journalists who have followed her trail. She was an icon, a living statue of Palestinian journalism.
As one might say, maybe it was the way the Israeli army “commemorated” the anniversary of last year’s bombing of the Gaza Strip in May. Back then, in just 11 days, Israeli air force and artillery destroyed 1,770 buildings, killing 261 people, including 67 children, and injuring more than 2,200. Among the destroyed buildings, there was the media center from which Palestinian and foreign journalists reported on the events in Gaza.
That place was signposted and marked as press center, just like Abu Akleh clearly signalled that she was a journalist.
She might have felt secure, working for one of the most famous media outlets in the world, wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet, having accreditation from the Israeli authorities. As we see, she could not feel safe. No one can. It is just how things are going in Israel, it is just bare daily life of Palestinians.
I do not know what is going on in the minds of Israeli politicians and officials.Yesterday, maybe, I would have been able to analyze that. But after seeing what has happened at the funeral of Abu Akleh, I just cannot.
Someone might say that Zionists are trying to use the disarray made by the Ukraine war, to provoke more chaos in the occupied territories, and then use the chaos to take more and more land. But I am not sure. It is just a guess.
Only one thing stands clear: the way for much more violence is wide open. And we have to carefully watch upcoming days.