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Tracing A Life-Taking Bullet

Journalists thought that at least, they were safe. They had no idea that they would have to face the bullets. The New York Times investigation recently revealed that Shireen Abu Akleh (April 3, 1971 – May 11, 2022), a Palestinian-American journalist who worked as a reporter for the Arabic-language channel Al Jazeera for 25 years, and was one of the most prominent names across West Asia for her decades of reporting in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, was shot dead intentionally by Israel Elite Force in West Bank on May 11, 2022. In a report published on June 20, the US daily mentioned that no Palestinian armed men were near Abu Akleh at the time she was killed in the occupied West Bank, thus dismissing early Israeli theories blaming Palestinians for the incident.

Shireen Abu Akleh (R) & her body (L)

On May 11, Abu Akleh, along with a few other journalists, arrived in West Bank to cover the Israeli invasion of the Palestinian territory (occupied by Israel). She was shot dead in the early morning. Since then, tensions have risen between Israel and Palestine over who killed the seasoned journalist. Palestine initially claimed that the Israeli Forces gunned down Abu Akleh. However, Israel counter-claimed that the journalist had been shot dead by the Palestinians. Later, the New York Times launched an independent investigation into the matter, and found that the bullet, which killed Abu Akleh, came from the approximate location of an Israeli military convoy. The US daily came to the conclusion on the basis of available video footage, witness testimonies and an acoustic analysis of the bullets fired around the time Abu Akleh was killed.

Salim Awad, a Jenin resident who filmed the incident, confirmed that there were no armed Palestinians in that area. Talking to the media, he stressed: “There was no conflict or confrontations at all. We were about 10 guys, give or take, walking around, laughing and joking with the journalists.” Awad added: “We were not afraid of anything. We didn’t expect that anything would happen, because when we saw journalists around. We thought it’d be a safe area.” However, according to the Palestinian witness, shots were fired at Abu Akleh and three other journalists, as they approached IDF vehicles.

Palestinians staging protests with Shireen’s images

Earlier, the Israeli authorities argued that if the shots were fired by their Army personnel, then the target should be the Palestinian soldiers, and not journalists. As the investigation revealed that there were no Palestinian armed men near Abu Akleh at the time of the murder, it means that the Israeli Elite Forces deliberately shot her. Ballistic and forensic experts are of the opinion that the bullet, designed to pierce armour, is used in M4 rifles that are carried by the Israeli Army. However, the round was manufactured in the US. Al Jazeera recently obtained an image of the bullet that was extracted from Abu Akleh’s head.

Although the New York Times has mentioned that “Palestinian deaths rarely attract international scrutiny, and soldiers accused of crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank are rarely convicted”, the Global Community has slammed the Israeli Forces for this targeted attack that claimed the life of 51-year-old journalist.

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