Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Israeli snipers murdered prominent American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Wednesday in an attempt to prevent the veteran Al Jazeera correspondent and her camera crew from filming an Israeli military attack on the Jenin refugee camp in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank.
The Israeli army has killed 50 Palestinian journalists in the past two decades. During the Great March of Return protests in Gaza, Israeli snipers routinely shot unarmed protesters, as well as journalists and medics. In 2018 alone they killed 180 and wounded 6,000 innocent civilian protesters.
Ms. Abu Akleh, 51, covered the Palestinians for millions of viewers at the Al Jazeera satellite television channel for some 20 years and was certainly seen as a threat to Israel’s ability to oppress the Occupied Palestinians with impunity. Israeli Army spokesman Ran Kohav said that the journalists were “armed with cameras.” When you are carrying out evil Apartheid policies, you see cameras as deadly weapons.
Ali al-Samoudi, who was shot in the back by an Israeli sniper, explained what happened. “We went in to film the Israeli operation. Then they opened fire at us. They made no demand that we leave, or cease. They opened fire at us. One bullet hit me and another hit Shireen, and they killed her in cold blood because they are killers. Look, they specialize in killing Palestinians.”
A journalist says, “They are alleging that Palestinians shot her.”
Al-Samoudi replies, “There were no resistance fighters around us.”
Another of Ms. Abu Akleh’s colleagues, Mujahed Al-Saadi, also spoke on camera. He said that it was very clear that Ms. Abu Akleh had been targeted by the Israeli snipers, who shot her just beneath the ear. He continued, “What happened was that we were waiting for our colleagues to enter the refugee camp. From the first moment when we entered the camp, at that point the army was already present there. We chose a position where there were no confrontations, either with youth or with resistance fighters. We got to that point and we waited while Shireen put on her safety gear, and she arrived among us and we moved a few meters. We revealed ourselves to the army and to passers-by as TV press. We arrived and within seconds the first shot rang out. I told them, we are being targeted, we are being shot at. I turned and found Shireen on the ground. I found Shatha shielding herself behind a tree and screaming. I turned and found Shireen on the ground in the first few seconds. With the firing, and we were telling each other we were being shot at. The shooting continued for more than three minutes on the team members present. Ali was injured, but he was able to cross the street to a position of safety, but even so the shooting at us continued. I took refuge under a staircase in the cement factory and the shooting continued. Shatha– the shooting was targeted at the person the sniper saw was taking cover behind the tree –our colleague Shatha Hanaysheh, and the shooting toward her continued, while she was standing under the tree and we could not provide first aid to Shireen. The youth came to us, the ones that were in the street, who were trying to pull Shireen — they were also shot at, whenever anyone moved forward, they were shot at.”
It seems clear that the Israeli snipers viewed the camera crew as dangerous to their raid on Jenin. They likely intended to do things to the Palestinians there that they did not want filmed. They therefore attempted to kill the entire team. They murdered Shireen Abu Akleh and shot Ali al-Samoudi, and were trying to shoot Shatha Hanayesh as she sheltered behind a tree. They continued firing for three minutes and seemed to have wanted to make sure Ms. Abu Akleh bled out and could not receive any first aid by pinning down anyone who approached her. They treated these journalists as high value targets marked for removal with extreme prejudice.
Marc Owen Jones, an information specialist who has blown the whistle on large numbers of trolling operations, made fun of the attempt of the Israeli army to muddy the waters with a misleading video, in a brazen and ridiculous attempt to blame Palestinians for the death. There were no clashes with Palestinian fighters anywhere near the journalists, and Shireen was not killed by a stray bullet. She and her team were pinned down with heavy fire for three minutes. They were the targets.
It's not rocket science. The @IsraelMFA have showed a demonstrably misleading video trying to place blame for the killing of #ShireenAbuAqla onto Palestinians. It constitutes a gross disregard for the truth. It's an attempt to whitewash/cover up. It's newsworthy https://t.co/ArKinXO8Lu
— Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) May 11, 2022
The video’s relevance was shown to be nil by the Israeli human rights group,, B’tselem:
This morning, B’Tselem’s field researcher in Jenin documented the exact locations in which the Palestinian gunman depicted in a video distributed by the Israeli army, fired, as well as the exact location in which Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed. pic.twitter.com/6VbEJJuF7z
— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) May 11, 2022
As usual, most Western, and especially American news organizations, reported Ms. Abu Akleh’s murder in the passive voice (she “was killed”) and took seriously the Israeli Army’s shameless attempt to muddy the waters. I watched a fair amount to US cable news Wednesday and did not even see a mention of this killing of an American journalist. They weren’t so shy in denouncing Russian killing of Ukrainian journalists.