#JusticeForShireen: Who will call this journalist’s killers to account?

Saturday May 21 2022
Veteran journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh.

Veteran journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh during one of her reports from Jerusalem in this undated handout photo released by Al-Jazeera TV. She was shot dead by Israeli troops early on May 11, 2022 as she covered a raid on Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, according to the network. PHOTO | AL JAZEERA | AFP


Time and again, something happens just to remind us that we live in a truly cynical world, in which politicians and governors only care for what works for them in the here-and-now calculations of crass political gains.

Such an occasion was once again offered with the killing of Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was shot by the Israeli military in Jennin a week ago.

The Israeli authorities were quick to deny any responsibility, as they do every time something like this happens, even suggesting that Shireen could have been hit by a Palestinian bullet!

But it soon became clear that this was rubbish, when the Israeli military attacked the crowd escorting Shireen’s cortège to her burial site, beating up the mourners and almost capsizing her coffin, an abomination in every faith you can think of. The indignity of that attack on the cortège erased any doubt that could have existed as to the murderers of the journalist. The hatred for the young woman was demonstrated in all in its ugliness by that act.

Israeli forces

It is so simple to understand why Israeli forces will deliberately target any journalist documenting their crimes in occupied Palestine. Since 1948 when Israel was established through the forceful removal of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians — thrown off their land and made to live in refugee camps such as the one in which Shireen was killed —this has been the pattern.


What the Palestinians called al Nakba (the Catastrophe) of 1948 was not an event, and it continues to this day with the illegal settlements of Jews continuing on Palestinian land, evicting the lawful owners. I was watching the other day the story of a woman who, having been evicted as a baby back in 1948, was now being expelled from the refuge she had taken back then. In other words, she was being tuned into a double evictee.

The documentation of such crimes is what the Israeli authorities do not want to happen, because they show the true colours of a regime that more and more sections of world opinion have begun to recognise as an Apartheid system akin to what we got rid of in Pretoria in 1994. Shireen’s work was helping to shed more light on the atrocities committed by Israel, and she simply had to be stopped. Many other journalists in occupied Palestine have paid this hefty price.

The usual hypocrisy of the powerful came into play when the American president, Joe Biden apparently “did not have all the facts” to pronounce himself on the assassination, despite the fact that Shireen was actually an American citizen with the right to claim protection from the US government.

But how can the Americans provide that protection when the knee-jerk defence of Israel — no matter what she does — is a cornerstone of US foreign policy, including unquestioning funding and other forms of support in security and military spheres

Cruel version

In fact, the bullet that went into Shireen’s head could have been an American bullet. That reminds me of Anton Myrer’s classic novel, Once an Eagle. The shafts striking you are your own, or a cruel version of “friendly fire.”

The continuation of America’s unthinking support for the state of Israel is truly baffling, but it is a fact that the long-suffering people of Palestine (and the whole wide world) will have to live with till something really fundamental changes in international relations, and that is something we cannot put a time-frame to.

It is not possible to say with certainty when American world hegemony will finally wane, though we know it definitely will have to.

What we can do in the meantime is to demand that those occupying other countries illegally — a heinous crime in itself — abide by norms of civilised society when dealing with journalists in war and crisis situations.

It is the role of such people to brave the dangerous conditions caused by such conflicts in order to bring to the world as accurate accounts as possible so as to allow the world to know how to behave toward whatever is going down in the area concerned, and perhaps craft a way of ending the conflict. Deliberate targeting of journalists hampers such efforts.

It goes on and on. A couple of years ago, another American journalist was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and his killers have not been hard to identify, although they remain secure from sanctions. Jamal Khashoggi remains a silent witness to the murderous brutality of the Saudi regime, which, like Israel, is a valued client of Washington’s.

American politicians

It is now almost accepted universally that Israel cannot do wrong in the eyes of American politicians, that she can literally get away with murder, which is exactly what happened in the case of Shireen’s shooting.

I would expect our governments to show they are concerned with this kind of behaviour by a government they have diplomatic relations with, but unfortunately who among our governments would like to raise issues concerning a dead journalist?

Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]