Newsman: Thousands gathered to mourn a slain Al Jazeera journalist in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday, as the head of the Palestinian Authority blamed Israel for her death and rejected Israeli calls for a joint investigation. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American longtime TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, was killed on Wednesday while covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank. one Journalists who were with her was shot and wounded, said Israeli forces fired upon them even though they were clearly identifiable as reporters. . Shireen Abu Akleh, 51 year-old reporter, covered the Mideast conflict for more than 25 years. Her body was to be brought to Jerusalem, where she was born, for burial on Friday.
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately killing her and vowed to take legal action. “We pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.
Reporters who were with her said there were no Palestinian militants in the area. She was rushed to a hospital in Jenin in critical condition, where she was declared dead shortly after, at 7:15am (4:15 GMT), according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest and was standing with other journalists when she was killed.
Israeli officials initially suggested Abu Akleh was struck by militant fire and released a video showing gunmen firing at Israeli forces in a narrow alley inside the Jenin refugee camp. They later backtracked after an Israeli human rights group released its own video showing the site of the shooting was several hundred meters away from where Abu Akleh was killed.
Israel says it is investigating the incident.. Israel is calling for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with it on security.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas angrily rejected that proposal, saying “we hold the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for killing her.”
“They cannot hide the truth with this crime,” Abbas said in an address as her body lay in state with a Palestinian flag draped over it in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered.
“They are the ones who committed the crime, and because we do not trust them, we will immediately go to the International Criminal Court,” Abbas said. The ICC launched an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes over a year ago.
‘No confrontations’ Al Jazeera reports :
Al-Samoudi and other journalists at the scene said there were no Palestinian fighters present when the journalists were shot, directly disputing an Israeli statement referencing the possibility that it was Palestinian fire.
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” said al-Samoudi.
“The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen … there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene.”
Shatha Hanaysha, a local journalist who was standing next to Abu Akleh when she was shot, also told Al Jazeera that there had been no confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army. She said the group of journalists had been directly targeted.
“We were four journalists, we were all wearing vests, all wearing helmets,” Hanaysha said. “The [Israeli] occupation army did not stop firing even after she collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots being fired. The army was adamant on shooting to kill.”
The details of Abu Akleh’s killing are still emerging, but videos of the incident show that she was shot in the head, said Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim.
“What we know for now is that the Palestinian health ministry has announced her death. Shireen Abu Akleh was covering the events unfolding in Jenin, specifically, an Israeli raid on the city, which is north of the occupied West Bank, when she was hit by a bullet to the head,” Ibrahim said, speaking from the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
In her last email to the network, Abu Akleh sent a message to Al Jazeera’s Ramallah bureau at 6:13am (3:13 GMT) in which she wrote: “Occupation forces storm Jenin and besiege a house in the Jabriyat neighbourhood. On the way there – I will bring you news as soon as the picture becomes clear.”
Separately on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said an 18 year old Palestinian, Thaer Mislet-Yazouri, was shot dead by Israeli forces in the town of al-Bireh, near the illegal settlement of Psagot.