11 May, 2022
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
In a classical example of murdering the messenger in order to kill the message, Gestapo-like Israeli soldiers shot and killed Sherine Abu Akleh, a professional Palestinian journalist and Al Jazeera TV correspondent in occupied Palestine early Wednesday.
Another Palestinian journalist was moderately wounded.
According to Ali Samadi, the wounded journalist, Israeli troops who were carrying out a large military operation at the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank strafed the area with heavy machine gunfire. Abu Akleh and other journalists and cameramen arrived at the scene, wearing their helmets and easily distinguishable flak jackets, to cover the Israeli incursion.
Minutes later, a direct bullet hit Abu Akleh beneath her ear, wounding her, apparently fatally.
An Israeli army spokesperson initially claimed the rampaging troops “came under attack”, prompting them to return fire.
However, Ali Samadi vehemently denied the Israeli account.
“No, no, this is a total lie. There was calm in the area where we stopped, with our identification marks visible from afar. There were no armed individuals or even stone-throwers. And suddenly Sherine collapsed and began bleeding heavily.”
Samadi, a producer for Al Jazeera, said, “as an eyewitness, I was responsible for every word I utter,”
Walid al-Omari, the Chief correspondent of the Qatari pan-Arab TV network told Al Jazeera that “it is abundantly clear that Sherine was murdered knowingly and deliberately.”
On Wednesday afternoon, hours after the incident, the Israeli military spokesman said, “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Sherine was killed by our fire.”
Similar Statements by other Israeli spokespersons showed that Israel was somewhat backtracking from its initial denials and that the Israeli army might be edging toward admitting responsibility for the crime.
The ostensibly deliberate killing of the prominent Palestinian journalist drew strong reactions from around the world.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused the Israeli army of murdering Abu Akleh with malice aforethought.
“They murdered her, and they knew what they were doing.”
Moreover, the American and British ambassadors to Israel condemned the killing “in the strongest terms” and called for an “independent and transparent investigation into the crime”.
Al Jazeera network, known for its meticulous professionalism, also accused the Israelis of killing Sherine in cold blood.
However, Jewish settlers and supporters, including most ministers in the Naftali Bennett’s government refused to condemn the crime.
In fact, one Knesset member named Ben Gvir gloated over the murder saying, ” The presence of journalists should never prevent the army from firing,” implying that the lives of Jews were more precious than those of journalists.
It is not hard to predict why Israel is targeting journalists. Israel, by killing Sherine Abu Akleh, is simply sending a fateful message to all journalists, including cameramen. Stating in unmistakable language that fetching for the truth and communicating it to the world has a price. And the price could be your life.
So in a certain sense, Israel is putting a real dilemma before journalists: you either choose transmitting the truth or saving your life. And you cannot choose both.
This is by no means a novel Israeli policy. During the previous Palestinian intifadas, Israeli occupation forces killed and seriously injured many Palestinian journalists and cameramen.
This writer was summoned to the Israeli army military administration in Hebron in 1990 and was told: “to behave otherwise something terrible could happen to you.”
In fact, almost every Palestinian reporter, cameraman, and journalist have many stories to tell concerning the racist maltreatment meted out to them by the Israeli occupiers. This is how “the only democracy in the Middle East” functions.