Shireen Abu Akleh (شيرين أبو عاقلة)
Born/Date of Birthday: 3 January 1971
Place of Birth: Jerusalem
Died: 11 May 2022 (aged 51), Jenin, State of Palestine
Cause of death: Gunshot wound
Nationality: Palestinian and American
Alma mater: Yarmouk University
Employer: Al Jazeera
Shireen Abu Akleh (3 January 1971 – 11 May 2022) was a Palestinian-American journalist. She worked as a reporter for the Arabic-language channel of Al Jazeera for 25 years before she was killed on 11 May 2022, while covering a raid on Jenin in the occupied West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces.
Early life and education
Abu Akleh was born in 1971 in Jerusalem; her family were Arab Christians from Bethlehem. She attended secondary school in Beit Hanina, then matriculated at the Jordan University of Science and Technology to study architecture; she later transferred to Yarmouk University in Jordan from which she graduated with a bachelor's degree in print journalism. After graduating, Abu Akleh returned to Palestine.
Abu Akleh worked as a journalist for Radio Monte Carlo and Voice of Palestine. She additionally worked for the UNRWA, Amman Satellite Channel, and MIFTAH. In 1997, she began working as a journalist for Al Jazeera, becoming well-known as a reporter on their Arabic-language channel. She lived and worked in East Jerusalem, reporting on major events related to Palestine including the Second Intifada, and additionally covering Israeli politics. She often reported on funerals for Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Abu Akleh continued in her role with Al Jazeera until she was killed by Israeli forces in 2022.
On 11 May 2022, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced that Abu Akleh had been shot and killed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) while reporting on IDF raids in Jenin. Abu Akleh was present at a raid which the Israeli military stated was targeted at capturing "terror suspects". Abu Akleh was shot in the head by the IDF, and transported to Ibn Sina Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. She was 51 years old. Another journalist, Ali Samoadi of Al-Quds newspapaer, was shot in the back but survived; two other Palestinians were transported to a hospital in moderate condition.
Haaretz reported that Palestinian militants had fired on IDF soldiers, after which the soldiers returned fire; Al Jazeera reported that according to their Ramallah bureau chief, Walid Al-Omari, there was no shooting by Palestinian gunmen. Al-Omari also stated that Abu Akleh had been wearing a helmet and was shot in an unprotected area under her ear, suggesting that this demonstrated she was "deliberately targeted". Video of the shooting showed Abu Akleh wearing a blue flak jacket that was clearly marked "PRESS".
Al Jazeera described the killing of Abu Akleh as a "horrifying crime that breaches international norms" and was committed "in cold blood". The network's managing director Giles Trendle stated that the network was "shocked and saddened" by her death and called for a transparent investigation.
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, stated that he considered Israeli forces "fully responsible" for Abu Akleh's death. A Palestinian official[who?] said that Abu Akleh had been "martyred by the bullets of the Israeli occupation", while Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted that the "crime of silencing the word" had been "committed once again, and the truth is murdered by the bullets of the Israeli occupation". Head of the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom Husam Zomlot described Abu Akleh as a "beloved journalist" and his close friend. Another Palestinian official[who?] described her death as an assassination.
Ran Kochav, a spokesperson for the IDF, told Kan that he did not believe Abu Akleh was killed by IDF forces. He stated that the IDF had proposed opening a joint investigation but that he did not expect "the Palestinians" to cooperate, saying that "the Red Crescent took the body away" immediately after she was shot.
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