Photo: Mourners carry Shireen Abu Akleh’s body. Credit: alwatan_live
Tens of thousands of mourners marched today as part of the funeral procession for assassinated Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. In a continuation of their long history of killing those in Palestine who work to show the truth of brutal apartheid rule, Israeli forces murdered Abu Akleh on Wednesday. She was covering an Israeli military raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin when she was assassinated by an Israeli sniper.
Israeli forces outrageously attacked mourners present at the funeral, shooting stun grenades and beating many of those in attendance.
Abu Akleh was with a group of three other Palestinian journalists when she was killed. Another member of the group, Ali al-Samoudi, was also shot and injured. All four journalists were wearing vests and helmets that clearly identified them as being members of the press. In addition, no Palestinian fighters were present at the scene when Israeli forces opened fire, and the Israeli forces continued to shoot even after they had hit Abu Akleh. The group of journalists were clearly targeted by the Israeli forces, despite the fact that there was no mistaking their status as members of the press.
One of the most well-known and respected journalists in Palestine, Abu Akleh was viewed as honest, brave and powerful. She had been covering news related to the Israeli apartheid state for decades, and her name was a household one. She was widely considered to be a voice of the Palestinian struggle and experience living under occupation, and was known not only for her reporting, but also for her social involvement.
The murder of such a prominent journalist is a significant escalation by Israel. However, the targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israel is nothing new. Israeli forces are reported to have killed 83 Palestinian reporters over the course of the last 50 years. According to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, over 46 of those killings have happened since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Also within that time frame, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate typically recorded between 500 and 700 instances per year of attacks on and crimes against Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces. Israeli authorities have been attempting to silence Palestinian journalists in their attempts to show the violence that’s been perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinian protests, which are themselves a response to acts of brutality by Israeli police and armed forces.
Some of the tactics employed by Israel to attack Palestinian media workers include firing live ammunition on journalists, targeting photojournalists with steel bullets, police intimidation of the press while covering events, and disruption of live reports and footage. Israel has also launched airstrikes on buildings that housed the offices of media organizations, including the bombing of a building in Gaza that was home to several media offices less than a year ago.
The murder of Shireen Abu Akleh has had a profound impact on the Palestinian people, but the will to resist has only gotten stronger. Her death has become a focal point of mass struggle. There is such global outrage that criticism of the assassination of Abu Akleh, who held U.S. citizenship, has even come from the halls of the U.S. Congress and White House. All U.S. aid to Israel must immediately end in light of this and many other horrific crimes.