A sombre atmosphere has fallen over Jerusalem and the West Bank today as people woke to the news that the much-loved Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh had been shot and killed in Jenin this morning.
Shireen was on duty reporting on an Israeli arrest operation in the Jenin refugee camp. She was wearing a press vest and was shot in the head, during an intensive exchange of fire. Another journalist, Ali Samodi, working for the Al Quds newspaper, was shot in the back and is currently in hospital.
The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that he holds Israel fully accountable for her death. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the charge and has committed to launching a joint investigation.
Since late March, 30 Palestinians and 19 Israelis have been killed in a wave of terror attacks and retaliations. Jenin, in the Northern West Bank has become the focus of intensive IDF raids.
There have been countless needless deaths in the past few years, but few have shook the nation as much as Shireen’s. Shireen, aged 51, had worked at Al Jazeera since 1997 and was much loved across Palestine.
This morning the local radio presenter struggled to report the news without breaking down into tears. In my office, everyone was morose. Normal business was suspended as people sadly discussed the news. ‘Everyone loved her’, was the common sentiment.
Exactly one year ago, on 10 May 2021, Israel and Palestine began an 11-day war which resulted in intensive bombing in Gaza and the death of at least 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
The next few days and weeks will tell if history is going to repeat itself. It won’t be enough for the international community to mourn Shireen’s death on twitter. Steps need to be taken to move this tragic conflict towards a position of peace and stability in the region.