fair.png
Sunday August 14th, 2022 8:25PM

Slain Al Jazeera journalist was icon of Palestinian coverage

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

An Al Jazeera correspondent who was shot dead on Wednesday during an Israeli raid in the West Bank was a highly respected journalist in the Middle East whose unflinching coverage was known to millions of viewers.

News of Shireen Abu Akleh's death reverberated across the region. The 51-year-old journalist became a household name synonymous with Al Jazeera’s coverage of life under occupation during her more than two decades reporting in the Palestinian territories, including during the second intifada, or uprising, that killed thousands on both sides, most of them Palestinians.

Abu Akleh's name trended across Twitter in Arabic on Wednesday, setting social media alight with support for the Palestinians. Her image was projected over the main square in the West Bank city of Ramallah as mourners flooded the Al Jazeera offices there and her family home in east Jerusalem.

Al Jazeera and witnesses, including her producer who was shot in the back Wednesday, said she was killed by Israeli gunfire. Israel said it was unclear who was responsible, calling it “premature and irresponsible to cast blame at this stage.” Later Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz promised a transparent investigation, and said he was in touch with U.S. and Palestinian officials.

Abu Akleh's coverage of the harsh realities of Israel’s military occupation was inextricably linked with her own experiences as a Palestinian journalist on the front lines. Her death underscores the heavy price the conflict continues to exact on Palestinians, whether they are journalists or not.

Although she was also a U.S. citizen who often visited America in the summers, she lived and worked in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, where those who knew her said she felt most at home. A Palestinian Christian whose family was originally from Bethlehem, she was born and raised in Jerusalem. She leaves behind a brother.

In an Al Jazeera video released last year, Abu Akleh recalled the scale of destruction and “the feeling that death was at times just around the corner” during her coverage of the second intifada, from 2000-2005. “Despite the dangers, we were determined to do the job," she said.

“I chose journalism so I could be close to the people,” she added. "It might not be easy to change the reality, but at least I was able to communicate their voice to the world.”

Abu Akleh joined Al Jazeera in 1997, just a year after the groundbreaking Arabic news network launched. Among her many assignments were covering five wars in Gaza and Israel’s war with Lebanon in 2006. She reported on forced home evictions, the killings of Palestinian youth, the hundreds of Palestinians held without charge in Israeli prisons and the continuous expansion of Jewish settlements.

Her longtime producer, Wessam Hammad, said Abu Akleh possessed an incredible ability to remain calm under pressure.

“Shireen worked all these years with a commitment to the values and ethics of our profession,” he said of Abu Akleh, who the network called “the face of Al Jazeera in Palestine.”

He and Abu Akleh were often caught in Israeli cross-fire during the many stories they covered together, he said. On one assignment, their car filled with tear gas and they struggled to breathe. When they would think back on these moments, he said Abu Akleh would laugh and marvel at how they managed to survive.

Images of the moments after Abu Akleh was shot in the head on the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp circulated online and were broadcast on Al Jazeera and other Arabic news channels. Wearing a helmet and a vest clearly marked “PRESS," Abu Akleh’s body was shown lying face down in a patch of sand. A Palestinian man jumped over a wall to reach her as gunshots rang out, dragging her motionless body to a car.

In video from the West Bank hospital where Abu Akleh was pronounced dead, a male colleague was seen weeping at her hospital bed as others choked back tears. A female correspondent for Al Jazeera in the Gaza Strip wept on air as she reported from a vigil for the journalist.

Later Wednesday, Abu Akleh’s body, draped in a Palestinian flag and covered by a wreath of flowers, was carried through downtown Ramallah on a red stretcher. Hundreds chanted, “With our spirit, with our blood, we will redeem you, Shireen.”

An outpouring of condemnation came from governments around the world. The U.S. State Department called her death “an affront to media freedom.” And U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “appalled by the killing.”

In an opinion piece published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, columnist Gideon Levy praised her bravery, saying “Abu Akleh died a hero, doing her job,” and noted that she went to Jenin and other occupied areas that Israeli journalists “rarely if ever visited.”

It had started as another routine assignment for Abu Akleh. She'd emailed colleagues that she was heading to the Jenin refugee camp to check on reports of an Israeli military raid. “I will bring you the news as soon as the picture becomes clear,” she wrote.

“Generations grew up seeing her work,” producer Hammad, said. “People listened to Shireen’s voice and were influenced by her to study journalism so they could be like her.”

Abu Akleh's niece, Lina Abu Akleh, described her as a “best friend” and “second mom”.

“She is someone that I was looking up to since I was a kid, watching all of her reports," she told journalists from the family's home. "I never thought this day would come where the news would be about her."

___

Follow Aya Batrawy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ayaelb

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Slain Al Jazeera journalist was icon of Palestinian coverage
A veteran Al Jazeera correspondent who was shot dead while reporting on an Israeli raid in the West Bank was a highly respected and familiar face in the Middle East
1:23PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Former La. police boss faces contempt in Ronald Greene probe
Lawmakers investigating the deadly arrest of Black motorist Ronald Greene have voted to hold the former head of the Louisiana State Police in contempt for defying a subpoena and refusing to turn over his handwritten journals
1:10PM ( 18 minutes ago )
For future with team, Nets want more commitment from Irving
Kyrie Irving may have to show the Brooklyn Nets he’s more than a great basketball player if he wants a future with the team
1:09PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Al Jazeera reporter killed during Israeli raid in West Bank
Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, one of the satellite channel’s best-known reporters, has been shot and killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank
12:48PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Report: Census Bureau backlogged on background checks
The U.S. Census Bureau has a backlog of cases involving workers who were flagged for problems in their background checks
12:46PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Ukraine shuts off Russian pipeline amid talk of annexation
Ukraine stopped the flow of Russian natural gas through one hub that feeds European homes and industry
12:45PM ( 43 minutes ago )
AP National News
Most Great Barrier Reef coral studied this year was bleached
Australian government scientists say 91% of the Great Barrier Reef coral surveyed this year was bleached in the fourth mass event in seven years
11:07AM ( 2 hours ago )
Reports: Hong Kong arrests Roman Catholic cardinal, others
Reports say a Roman Catholic cardinal, a singer and at least two others have been arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces to endanger China's national security
10:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
Wives of Mariupol defenders to pope: 'You are our last hope'
The wives of two Ukrainian soldiers defending the Mariupol steel mill have met with Pope Francis
10:39AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Former La. police boss faces contempt in Ronald Greene probe
Lawmakers investigating the deadly arrest of Black motorist Ronald Greene have voted to hold the former head of the Louisiana State Police in contempt for defying a subpoena and refusing to turn over his handwritten journals
1:10PM ( 18 minutes ago )
For future with team, Nets want more commitment from Irving
Kyrie Irving may have to show the Brooklyn Nets he’s more than a great basketball player if he wants a future with the team
1:09PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Running Twitter may be much harder than Elon Musk thinks
On Tuesday, Elon Musk said he would reverse Twitter’s ban of former President Donald Trump, who was booted in January 2021 for inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol, should he succeed in acquiring the social platform for $44 billion
1:09PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Judge: Trump must pay $110K, meet conditions to end contempt
A New York judge says he’s close to releasing Donald Trump from a contempt finding, but only if the former president meets certain conditions, including paying $110,000 in fines accrued for failing to turn over documents in a state civil investigation
1:09PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Live updates | Germany to train Ukraine on artillery system
The German army says it has begun training Ukrainian soldiers to use a powerful artillery system that Germany and the Netherlands plan to supply to Ukraine
1:08PM ( 20 minutes ago )