May 1, 2022
Content Warning: Police violence
Art by @thosebeyonddrunk
UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, the IOF admitted to Shireen Abu Akleh’s death being the responsibility of their soldiers, but will not charge them for it.
On May 11th, Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was fatally assassinated by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Unfortunately, Shireen wasn’t the first journalist murdered by the Israeli forces, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be the last anytime soon. At the time of her assassination, Shireen Abu Akleh was wearing a blue vest, with the word “PRESS” clearly labeled across her chest. She was covering a military raid in the occupied city of Jenin.
In the past, when Israel has murdered other well-known individuals, they follow a pattern of rejecting charges and deflecting the blame onto Palestinians. In 2003 British filmmaker, James Miller, was shot by the IOF while filming a documentary in Gaza. Just as Shireen was wearing a vest with the word “PRESS”, Miller was holding a white flag while posing zero threat whatsoever. A similar situation unfolded when Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a prominent doctor, was asking the IOF to stop firing at them on live TV; his three daughters were killed by an air strike shortly after. In each of these cases, Israel has denied the fact that they killed innocent individuals. In the cases of the journalists, Shireen Abu Akleh and James Miller, the IOF went as far as blaming Palestinian freedom fighters for their deaths. These claims have repeatedly been proven false. The Israeli government has a well-documented history of blaming Palestinians for the deaths of innocent people caused by the IOF. Not only were these journalists, filmmakers, and children innocent, they were also physically showing that they weren’t putting anyone at risk.
The responses we’ve seen globally are rather interesting; some nations seem to not care. Other nations have adamantly asked Israeli officials or the International Criminal Courts to push forward on an investigation. On May 23rd, Palestine officially put in requests to the ICC to formally investigate Shireen’s death. The news publication that she worked for, Al-Jazeera which is based out of Qatar, is also requesting Israel to investigate her tragic death.
To some surprise, the United States has also spoken up and expressed that they are expecting an investigation. Many find hypocrisy in this call though—for decades the United States has been funding Israel’s occupation and settlement of Palestinian indigenous lands. The United States is calling for an investigation but as they still provide over $3.8 billion in military funding to Israel, annually. Amongst all of this, President Joe Biden is expected to visit Jerusalem around the end of June.
Time Magazine came out with an article titled Israel’s Response to Shireen Abu Akleh’s Death is a Problem. No shit it’s a problem. Not only was Israel in violation of international law by killing a journalist, but they were also quick to falsely accuse Palestinians of killing her. Now they’re refusing to investigate her murder. According to the Israeli news publication, Haaretz, Israel’s military investigation committee has decided that if they investigate her death, it will only cause an opposition within Israeli society.
As I am writing this, it has been almost three weeks since Shireen Abu Akleh’s passing and still nothing has been done or accomplished for her to achieve any sort of justice. Her family have made statements, Al-Jazeera has made statements, and thousands have flooded into the streets of major cities across the globe, calling for some sort of justice. All of this, yet still no sense of justice is on the horizon. Since the turn of the century, 7 journalists and filmmakers have died at the hands of the Israeli Occupation Forces. To Israel, and much of the international community, the IOF is known as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). In all 7 of these murders, none of these individuals posed any sort of threat to the wellbeing of Israeli citizens. In all 7 of these murders, the Israeli “Defense” Forces played an offensive move when they decided to carry out the assassinations of these journalists. In no way were these attacks defensive.
Shireen’s murder is just the most recent example of Israel’s efforts to restrict Palestine from getting a fair and accurate representation in the media. Shireen would show up on millions of televisions regularly, reporting on the regular atrocities committed in Palestine. When oppressed and occupied people don't have their sides of the conflict represented, the oppressors are one step ahead and only furthering their oppressive efforts. Israel’s violent occupation of Palestinian land has taken the lives of too many innocent people. How many more until we realize enough is enough? May 15th, Al-Nakba day, marked 74 years of this colonialistic settlement. With Israel’s occupation not showing any signs of ending any time soon, it’s more important than ever to listen to Palestinians and their stories.