Friday, 24 May, 2024

Calls for probe into killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh grow louder

The US says the Al Jazeera reporter’s death must be “investigated transparently”, while Türkiye’s communications director stresses that those responsible should be brought to justice.

In an interview shortly before her death, Abu Akleh described herself as a “product of Jerusalem”, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shaping much of her life. (AFP)

The killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank has drawn global condemnation.

The United States, United Nations, European Union and Türkiye separately called for a fair probe into Wednesday's incident.

The Qatari state-owned channel said Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was killed "in cold blood" and demanded Israeli forces be held accountable.

But Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested "armed Palestinians" were "likely" responsible. Israel’s military chief later said it was unclear who fired the fatal shot, and added that a probe was under way.

"We're encouraging both sides to participate in that investigation so that we can get down to why this happened," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, said.

She added that Washington's "highest priority is protection of American citizens and the protection of journalists".

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet's office said it was "appalled" at the killing and demanded a transparent investigation.

READ MORE:Report: Tens of Palestinians killed by Israel this year

The EU, too, condemned the killing and sought an independent investigation into the circumstances of Abu Akleh's death.

"It is essential that a thorough, independent investigation clarifies all the circumstances… as soon as possible and that those responsible are brought to justice," a statement by the EU's External Action Service said.

"It is unacceptable to target journalists while they perform their job. Journalists covering conflict situations must be ensured safety and protection at all times."

Türkiye backs swift investigation

Türkiye's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said he was "deeply saddened by the news" and offered his condolences to the journalist's family and colleagues.

"It is unacceptable for journalists, who serve the public and the truth, to be targeted under any circumstances," Altun wrote on Twitter, calling for a transparent probe.

READ MORE:Israeli court rules in favour of expulsion of over 1,000 Palestinians

'Giving voice to the voiceless'

Al Jazeera's newsdesk told Abu Akleh it would keep a spot for her "at the top of the hour", after she said in an email she was going to cover an Israeli operation in the Palestinian town of Jenin.

"But she never turned up," said Mohamed Moawad, the channel's head of output, fighting back tears as he told of the final contacts with the journalist widely hailed for her bravery and professionalism.

Instead of her live report from the raid, Al Jazeera staff were shaken to see social media images indicating she had been shot.

Moawad said another journalist soon sent a message informing them she had died three kilometres (nearly two miles) from the edge of Jenin. She had been with four other journalists, all wearing blue press vests and helmets.

"She was everywhere where there was a story. She has been everywhere to give voice to the voiceless," said Moawad.

READ MORE:Dozens left homeless by Israeli demolition in occupied East Jerusalem

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