Thousands of people gathered to mourn an Al Jazeera journalist in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday as the Palestinian Authority leader blamed Israel for her death and rejected Israeli calls for a joint investigation.
Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist who has covered the Middle East conflict for more than 25 years, was shot dead Wednesday in an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. Journalists accompanying him, including one who was shot and wounded, said Israeli forces fired on them when they were clearly identifiable as reporters.
Israel says it is investigating the incident. He initially suggested that Abu Akleh might have been shot dead by Palestinian militants, without providing evidence, but has since backtracked.
Israel is calling for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with it on security. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas angrily rejected the proposal, saying “we hold the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for his assassination.”
“They cannot hide the truth with this crime,” Abbas said in a speech as his body lay undisturbed, with a Palestinian flag draped over it, in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters are located.
“[The Israelis] are the ones who committed the crime, and because we don’t trust them, we will immediately take it to the International Criminal Court,” Abbas said. The ICC opened an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes more than a year ago.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Abbas official, said the Palestinians would conduct their own independent investigation and report the results “with great transparency”. He rejected an Israeli request to conduct its own ballistics analysis on the bullet that killed Abu Akleh.
Al Jazeera accuses Israel of deliberate attack
Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israeli military raid in Jenin, which has become a militant stronghold in recent weeks as Palestinians have carried out a series of deadly attacks and Israel has launched military raids across the Occupied West Bank.
The Qatar-based company AlJazeera accused Israel of deliberately killing her and vowed to take legal action. Journalists accompanying him said there were no Palestinian militants in the area.
Israeli officials first suggested that Abu Akleh had been hit by militant fire and released a video showing gunmen firing at Israeli forces in a narrow alley inside the Jenin refugee camp. They later backtracked after an Israeli rights group released its own video showing the shooting site was several hundred meters from where Abu Akleh was killed. kill.
His death was greeted with an outpouring of grief across the Arab world. The 51-year-old was well known as a veteran on-air correspondent for the Arabic language channel Al Jazeera. His reporting shed light on the realities of Israel’s military regime, which is well into its sixth decade. She was also an American citizen.
Her body was to be transported to Jerusalem, where she was born, for burial on Friday.
UN chief calls for investigation
The murder sparked international condemnation and numerous calls for accountability. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for “an independent and transparent investigation” to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday promised such an investigation, saying he was in contact with US and Palestinian officials and hoped for cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We are trying to figure out exactly what happened,” he said. “I don’t have any definitive conclusions.”
His death comes amid a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence fueled by tensions at a key holy site in Jerusalem.
At least 18 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks in recent weeks, along with more than 30 Palestinians, most of them involved in attacks or clashes with Israeli forces.