Shirin Abu Akle was able to do what only great men can do: unite the entire Palestinian people and expose the Israeli occupation before the eyes of the world, both in life and in death. A veteran Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist who was shot dead Wednesday while covering the Israeli military’s incursion into the occupied West Bank has become a journalist in the Arab world after 25 years on the screens of millions. His touching death, which the Qatari network and the Palestinian Authority blame on Israeli soldiers, was met with one of the longest and most crowded funerals in Palestinian history.
Abu Akle was born in Jerusalem in 1971, graduated as a journalist in Jordan and returned to Palestine to work. After going through several media outlets, the reporter switched to Al Jazeera in 1997, just a year after the network was founded, she recalled. There, she was one of the first co-directors of its Arabic-language service and began to make herself known for her coverage of the second intifada in 2000. Abu Akle has also covered important events such as the successive wars launched by Israel in Gaza from 2008 to last year and in Lebanon in 2006. Colleagues remembered her as a brave, kind and approachable reporter.
One of the places where Abu Akle often worked was Jenin, a city in the north of the occupied West Bank, where he traveled on Wednesday to monitor the Israeli military’s incursion into a refugee camp. It was during this reportage, which she went to in a bulletproof vest, helmet and clearly identified herself as a reporter, that Abu Akle was shot in the head, which the reporters who accompanied her, Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Ministry of Health, is attributed to the Israeli army. The latter initially denied involvement and assured that they could be Palestinian combatants, a claim he later followed up with calls for an investigation.
The death of Abu Akle immediately shocked much of the Arab world and caused horror and anger throughout Palestine. Evidence of this is that the journalist was honored in a long and solemn procession that passed from Jenin to Jerusalem over the course of three days, passing through the city of Nablus, where her autopsy was performed, and Ramallah, where a state funeral was held. Thursday, which was attended by thousands of people, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
A crowd of Palestinians take part in a procession at the funeral in Jerusalem of journalist Shirin Abu Akel.RONALDO SCHEMIDT (AFP)
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On the same Thursday, Abu Akle’s body was transferred to Jerusalem, where a new procession was to take place on Friday from a hospital in the symbolic Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem to the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother of God in the Old City, where a memorial service was held at a nearby cemetery before her funeral. Thousands of people gathered again to accompany her.
However, Israeli police tried to prevent Palestinians from putting up posters of Abu Akle near the cathedral and began blocking roads to the hospital where the march was supposed to start from when people began to gather, Al Jazeera reported. Videos posted to social media also show how police forcibly removed Palestinian flags from the reporter’s house on Thursday. And during Friday’s procession, Israeli riot police attacked the march, beating those holding Abu Akle’s coffin, causing it to nearly fall to the ground for a moment, capturing Palestinian flags and firing stun grenades. The imagery of the repression sparked even more outrage among those who followed the march in honor of the reporter across the Arab world.
The first Israeli police statement says they intervened in response to the throwing of stones and other objects, which does not appear to be confirmed by the videos released by the body itself. In a second statement, police said they were acting to disperse the crowd, prevent the casket from being loaded and allow the funeral to proceed as agreed with the Abu Akle family, which the reporter’s brother denied in UK network statements. BBC. Israel has a long history of suppressing any manifestation of Palestinian nationalism.
Israeli riot police attacked the funeral procession with the coffin of Shirin Abu Akle this Friday in Jerusalem. AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)
Late Friday evening, after the procession had ended, Palestinian prosecutors issued a statement saying their initial investigations show that the only source of fire at the time and place where Abu Akle was shot was Israeli forces. He also pointed out that the first signs indicate that the crime was committed intentionally. His version coincides with the version of the journalists who were with the correspondent at that time.
Israel, for its part, indicated that it could only identify the author of the shots through ballistic analysis, and demanded that the bullet that killed Abu Akle be handed over to him for joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority. However, Ramallah denied the request and assured that he would investigate. Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned the fact that Israel rarely conducts a thorough investigation into the deaths of Palestinians shot dead by its soldiers. Since 2000, the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists has documented 46 killings of Palestinian journalists, with no one held accountable.
Despite the risks associated with the profession in the region, a video widely shared on social media in recent days includes testimony from Abu Akla herself explaining why she chose to dedicate herself to it. “I chose journalism to be closer to people,” he said. “It may not be easy to change reality, but at least you can bring your voice to the world. I am Shirin Abu Akle.”
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