Hundreds Protest Al Jazeera Journalist’s Killing Across Israel

Hundreds gathered in rallies organized by Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) on Wednesday and Thursday to protest the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces and in the West Bank.

200 people demonstrated in Haifa, waving Palestinian flags, holding pictures of Abu-Aqleh and carrying signs bearing texts in Hebrew and Arabic reading “Occupation = terror.” “We stand here this evening in protest of the murder of the journalist Abu Aqleh today in Jenin,” Raja Zaatry, chairman of the Haifa branch of the Hadash, said. He described Abu Akleh’s killing as “a grave crime that is added to the many crimes of the occupation, which is the main and daily terror in this country.”

Speaking at a demonstration in Haifa, former Hadash lawmaker and leading CPI members Issam Makhoul called the death of the journalist a “targeted execution” and a “war crime” which he said was the “result of the frustration caused by the unsuccessful occupation policy.” “Those who think that the solution will come by applying more force, will fail both security-wise and politically-wise and will lead to more suffering to both peoples,” he said.

Hadash MKs Ayman Odeh, Aida Touma-Sliman and Ofer Cassif visit the family of killed journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh on May 11, 2022 (Photo: Al-Ittihad)

150 people protested Abu Aqleh’s death in the northern Arab city of Nazareth, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans that included: “Shireen Abu Aqleh’s message won’t die with her.” The chairman of Israel’s Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and leading CPI member, Mohammad Barakeh, said that “Shireen’s blood is on Bennett’s hands and any attempt to murder the truth just as Shireen was murdered will fail.” On Thursday more rallies were held at Tel-Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Acre and several Arab localities across Israel, among them Umm el-Fahm, Taybe and Arabeh, 

Hadash Mks, the Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, Aida Touma-Sliman and Ofer Cassit visit the family of killed journalist in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon. MK Odeh called Abu Aqleh a hardworking journalist who “bravely reported the crimes of the occupation, and this morning became a victim of these crimes.” Cassif and Touma-Sliman, cast doubt on the official Israeli account. Cassif took to Twitter to say that she was shot by “soldiers of the occupation and then shot again by the IDF spokesperson’s false statement,” while Touma-Sliman said she “trusts journalists on the ground, and not the IDF spokesperson.”

The Palestine Journalists Syndicate has decried Abu Aqleh’s death as “a clear assassination perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army”. The syndicate also held the Israeli occupation “fully responsible for this heinous crime against press freedom”, particularly after World Press Freedom Day, which is marked on May 8. Anthony Bellanger, the secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said Abu Akleh’s killing is a “deliberate systematic targeting of a journalist”. “Yet again journalists, wearing press vests, clearly identified were targeted by Israeli snipers,” he said in a statement. “We will seek to add this case to the ICC complaint submitted by the IFJ, detailing such systematic targeting.”

In a statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on authorities to conduct a “swift, immediate, and transparent investigation” into the killing Abu Aqleh. Sherif Mansour, MENA programme coordinator for CPJ, said the committee has documented at least 18 cases since 1992 of journalists being killed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, adding there has been “no justice” in any of these cases.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mansour called for a comprehensive and transparent investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing. “The timing is crucial here because it’s happening exactly one year after the UN asked for a probe into the Israeli authorities’ actions against at least 28 media outlets last year,” Mansour told Al Jazeera. “We are hoping this case informs the UN report, but also will encourage Western capitals to raise these issues directly with Israeli officials.

Abu Aqleh was a widely known and respected Palestinian journalist. A longtime veteran of the pan-Arab network, Abu Aqleh’s post made her a familiar face for millions of viewers. She was a native of Jerusalem, had been covering Israel and the occupied West Bank for Qatar based news organization for the past two decades. Abu Aqleh worked for several agencies such as UNRWA, Radio Voice of Palestine, Amman Satellite Channel, the Moftah Foundation, and Radio Monte Carlo, eventually switching to Al Jazeera in 1997

Close to 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces since late March, including a teenage girl who was returning home from studying.  In April, 18-year-old Hanan Khadour from the town of Faqqua near Jenin died from wounds she sustained during an occupation army raid on Jenin who were carrying out arrests against Palestinians suspected of being involved in the deadly attack in Tel Aviv that killed three men.