He told the most enduring important story of the Arab world for the most watched channel in the Middle East.
On Wednesday morning, Shireen Abu Akleh became the victim of the same conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that she chronicled for Al Jazeera, and was shot dead under still dark conditions as Israeli soldiers conducted a raid on the West Bank town of Jenin.
The death of the 51-year-old Jerusalem-born Palestinian-American is already sending shock waves in Israel, the Middle East and around the world, and will likely draw more attention to the unresolved and ongoing conflict at a time when the war is over. opinion.
Over the past quarter century, Abu Akleh has become a regular presence in homes, cafes and offices throughout the Arab world, and more broadly worldwide as Al Jazeera’s English channel.
“It was certainly the voice of Palestine in every Arab home,” an international journalist said in an interview.
Jenin’s death by a bullet to the head is already complicating the ongoing political crisis in Israel and has sparked calls for a response from the United Kingdom and the United States.
“I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death and injury of at least one journalist in Jenin today,” the US ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said in a tweet.
The news of the killing caused the Israel United Arab List to delay its announcement on whether Israel would remain part of the governing coalition or allow it to lose its weak majority. Palestinian leaders, the broadcaster’s headquarters in Qatar, Al Jazeera and NGOs, blamed Israel for the murder, although Israel insisted that Palestinian gunmen likely shot Abu Akleh.
Known for his cool demeanor and professionalism, the veteran journalist and his crew were preparing to live-stream Israel’s ongoing raid on Jenin when one of their colleagues, Ali al-Samudi, was suddenly shot in the shoulder. Palestinian journalists
“There has been no conflict at this time,” said Mohammed Daraghmeh.
The Palestine-based bureau chief of the United Arab Emirates news outlet Asharq. “Ali fell and was shot in the back again. At that moment Shireen was shouting, ‘Ali was shot! Ali was shot!”
Then heavy shooting broke out. In the video published on social media, it was seen that the panicked journalists were screaming for help while automatic gunfire was heard from afar. “Another journalist with him told me that there was a lot of gunfire at the scene and Shireen fell,” Daraghmeh said. “He tried to reach her, but she wouldn’t move.”
The video showed what is said to be the lifeless body of Abu Akleh lying on the ground. Journalists who covered the raid began to call an ambulance. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head by gunfire. Mr. Samudi remains stable.
Israeli forces said they encountered intense gunfire and explosives during the raid and responded by opening fire. “It seems likely that armed Palestinians, who opened indiscriminate fire at the time, were responsible for the journalist’s unfortunate death,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.
However, both Palestinian authorities and Al Jazeera blamed Israel for shooting blue-helmeted and body-armored journalists posing as members of the press.
“It is clear that they were shot by Israeli soldiers,” Daraghme said. “There was no threat to the soldiers. There was no crossfire and they were away from the soldiers.”
Al Jazeera described the murder as “open murder, a violation of international laws and norms” and accused Israeli forces of “killing Abu Akleh in cold blood”. It called on the international community to be held responsible for Israel’s death.
“Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and occupation forces responsible for Shireen’s murder,” the statement said.
Israel’s foreign ministry released a video footage describing what it describes as Palestinian gunmen in Jenin and shot an Israeli soldier, but noted that no Israeli soldiers were shot during Wednesday’s clash in Jenin. Israel welcomed a joint autopsy to determine the round that killed him, and called for a joint investigation into the death.
“There are indications that Ms. Abu Akleh was killed by Palestinian terrorist fire,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Israel will conduct a thorough investigation. We call on the Palestinian Authority to cooperate with this investigation to get the truth.”
Mr. Daraghmeh, a close friend and colleague of Abu Akleh, described him as a zealous person. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian Christian, never married and left no children behind. After earning a degree in journalism from Jordan, she returned to Jerusalem and started working.
“I would call her a nun who has dedicated her life to journalism and high values,” she said.
Having broadcast the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for many years for the most-watched pan-Arab satellite channel and its English-language broadcaster has made it a brand in the region.
Once during a trip to Sudan, Daraghmeh showed a photo of him with Abu Akleh and said that he would be famously mobbed in the streets if he reached Khartoum by young journalists and journalism teachers.
“Anyone who follows the Palestinian conflict in the Arab world will see its news,” he said.