Doubts mount of the killing of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces have resulted in the death of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. But the facts surrounding her death are in major doubt. 

Two videos are being shared online to help explain how Abu Akleh, 51, was shot after covering the ongoing clashes between the two sides on the outskirts of a Palestinian refugee camp.

Shireen Abu Akleh was reporting for the Arabic language channel Al Jazeera. She was covering the conflict in the Jenin area in the West Bank. On Wednesday morning, she was shot dead when clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. 

Al Jazeera released a statement following the shooting saying Abu Akleh was “assassinated in cold blood”. The Palestinian President and the Health Ministry reiterated these claims.

Shireen Abu Akleh was buried a day after being fatally shot. Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at the funeral, said Israel was “fully responsible for the death”.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet disputes those accusations saying the shot could have been fired by a Palestinian and the only way to really know the truth is through a “real investigation”. The Prime Minister accused the Palestinan Authority of preventing that.

Two videos have emerged appearing to show the moments before Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead. 

The first shows a Palestinian reporter wearing a helmet and protective vest with the words “PRESS” in white being shot. Those around the victim are heard shouting warnings that a sniper is firing at them. 

The second video shows an individual in a balaclava appearing to be “firing indiscriminately” down an alley not far from the location where Shireen Abu Akleh was shot. The Israeli authorities believe this was a Palestinian terrorist. 

However, both videos appear to show two separate locations which raises doubts as to who was responsible for shooting the Palestinian journalist.

B’Tselem a Jerusalem based not for profit organisation which documents human rights violations in the occupied region, has questioned the second video which the Israeli government believe shows a Palestinian militant firing indiscriminately.

A field researcher from the B’Tselem organisation was sent to the location depicted in the second video shared by the Israeli authorities. The researcher walks through the alley where the gunman is seen firing shots and confirms the location matches that of the video. However, the field researcher walks through the alley and has to take two turns before he is at the location of where Shireen Abu Akleh was shot. 

This apparent discrepancy raises doubts of the second video and whether it is a true account of what took place and if the gunman who shot the journalist was in fact a Palestinian militant. 

Israeli officials have requested a full investigation take place to determine the facts surrounding the shooting. But the Palestinian authorities have so far refused such an investigation.

In the absence of an investigation, the conflict between the two sides is likely to flare up with the potential of further clashes. 

The Palestinian Authority have a duty to achieve justice for Shireen and that must be done legally and cooperatively with the Israeli government. Without such an investigation, the tragic death of Shireen could be used to further increase tensions where more innocent lives could be lost. 

Wasiq Wasiq is a journalist specializing in defence and terrorism. You can follow him on Twitter: @WasiqUK