Palestinians condemn killing of journalist in West Bank

Ramallah/Gaza, May 12 (IANS) The killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank sparked condemnation and outrage among the Palestinians.
 
Palestinians condemn killing of journalist in West Bank

Ramallah/Gaza, May 12 (IANS) The killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank sparked condemnation and outrage among the Palestinians.

The journalist was killed on Wednesday morning.

Abu Akleh's colleagues, Palestinian eyewitnesses, and medics told Xinhua news agency that the "Israeli soldiers opened fire at her and another journalist when they were covering an Israeli Army force raid on the northern West Bank city of Jenin".

The Palestinian presidency held the Israeli government fully responsible for the death of Abu Akleh, according to an official statement sent to the media.

"The murder of Abu Akleh is a heinous crime and part of the daily policy pursued by the Israeli authorities against the Palestinians, their land, and their holy sites," the statement said.

Abu Akleh, 51, a Palestinian-American who lives in East Jerusalem, has been working for Al-Jazeera for more than 20 years. She had covered hard news in the Palestinian territories, mainly the conflict and tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Abu Akleh was hit in the head by an Israeli bullet during an Israeli military raid on Jenin refugee camp," the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement.

It added that Samoudi, another journalist working for Al-Jazeera, was hit in the back.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said there were several Palestinian journalists covering the raid when the Israeli soldiers opened fire.

Shaza Hamaysha, a Palestinian journalist who stood next to Abu Akleh, told Xinhua that Shireen "remained on the ground for several minutes, and no one could reach her due to the intensive Israeli soldiers' fire."

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said "it is likely that the Palestinian gunmen opened fire indiscriminately, and they are the ones who caused the unfortunate death of the journalist," according to Israeli media.

"Israel has called on the Palestinians to carry out an autopsy and a joint investigation based on the existing documents and information to get to the truth, but the Palestinians refuse," said an official statement issued by Bennett's office.

Israeli Army said on Wednesday that a special probe team has set up to "present the facts in full" over the killing of Abu Akleh.

However, Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), denied Bennett's statement.

"The Israeli authorities are fully responsible for the assassination of Abu Akleh," he said, adding that the Palestinian Authority "will refer the case to the International Criminal Court".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killing, and decided to attend her funeral on Thursday morning in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian state-run TV reported.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said "Abu Akleh was killed while documenting the horrible crimes committed by the soldiers against the Palestinian people."

He called for an international investigation, including the United Nations and other international bodies, adding that Palestine "is ready to be part of a reliable investigation committee".

In Gaza, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) said in a statement that "the Israeli assassination of Abu Akleh is condemned in the strongest terms".

--IANS

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