'She exposed the occupation's crimes': How Shireen Abu Akleh's killing has infuriated and saddened Yemen

5 min read
19 May, 2022

Shireen Abu Akleh, a famed Palestinian-American journalist, will no longer stand live to report the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An Israeli bullet hit her head and robbed her of life on Wednesday, May 11, in the West Bank city of Jenin. The deadly attack ended her three-decade journalism career.

Shireen Abu Akleh's painful departure has left millions of  TV viewers, news followers and sympathisers in anger, sorrow and sadness across the Arab region and the world.

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In Yemen, a country known for its love for Palestine, the horrible killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, has triggered a wave of furious reactions, strong condemnation and nationwide sympathy. For them, this journalist has been a genuine hero and will remain a symbol of professional reporting for good.

Authorities, unions, journalists and civilians across Yemen have all denounced this criminal act that has claimed the life of this journalism star. Though Yemen has been ravaged and fragmented by civil war for seven years, it has never shown disregard for the Palestinian question.

A barrage of statements was released, categorically condemning the Israeli horror and aggression. Yemen's Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on the cruel death, saying, "Committing this crime is a blatant violation of the international law and conventions. The perpetrators of this crime should be brought to justice."

This is not the first time Israel has targeted journalists in Palestine. In May last year, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a tower in Gaza City housing media offices of The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. The justification was that the building contained weapons possessed by Hamas.

While the words of denouncement and the sentiment of anger cannot be enough to free Palestine and bring Abu Akleh back to this earth, they are powerful proof that Palestine remains a critical issue for Arab countries, particularly for people in Yemen.

Yemen's branch of the Global Gathering to Support Resistance deplored the "Israeli assassination of journalist Abu Akleh when she was covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank. The statement said, "This crime reveals the racism of the Israeli occupation, its transgression of all moral and human values and its breach of the human and international laws and conventions."

The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh in broad daylight has raised a question: What does the Israeli army do to the Palestinian off-camera? The cruelty is more and accountability is zero.

The Information Minister of the Sanaa-based Houthi government, Dhaif Allah Al-Shami, said that the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh crime comes within the framework of the Zionist efforts to obliterate the truth and silence the voices that expose its atrocities and violations against the Palestinian people and Islamic sanctities.

He argued that the Zionist murder of journalist Shireen during her coverage of the Israeli violence is evidence of the importance of the media's role in revealing the crimes of the "Israeli entity that is stripped of all human values." Al-Shami is confident that the targeting of this journalist will not discourage free media professionals and reporters from continuing to expose the crimes and terrorism of Israel.

So far, Israeli denial continues. Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz stated that the investigation would reveal the perpetrator's identity. "We are not certain how she was killed, but we want to get to the bottom of this incident and to uncover the truth as much as we can," Gantz told reporters.

Whatever Israel says, it cannot persuade people around the world of the innocence of its soldiers. Israeli troops carry weapons to kill, not to defend themselves when required.

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While Shireen Abu Akleh's death shocked Yemeni viewers who knew and followed her on Al-Jazeera for many years, journalists and the media in this country have felt more pain. They see Akleh as a senior colleague and losing her reminds them of the unsafe environment media workers constantly encounter, especially in volatile Arab countries.

"What we can write about a journalist who embodied the meaning of courage as she carried out her duty and covered extraordinary events in Palestine," Jamal Al-Ghurab, a Yemeni journalist, said. He added, "She exposed the occupation's crimes and sacrificed her life as a cost for her courage and the great values she believed in."

At the grassroots level in Yemen, the killing of Abu Akleh was not minor news. Social media users have inundated their accounts with the photos of the martyred journalist, saying that she led a heroic effort to convey the plight of Palestinians to the world and has unearthed the reality of the merciless Israeli treatment of Arab people in occupied Palestine.

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Amar Amari, a school teacher in Sanaa, told The New Arab that the Israeli violence against Palestinians would never intimidate or force Arab people to ignore the Palestinian question.

 "The occupation killed Abu Akleh, but thousands and millions will be willing to follow her suit. The occupation decimates Palestinian houses and takes over the lands. Simultaneously, it shoots journalists so that its aggression is kept hidden. Whatever it does, the Israeli reputation for colonialism is known to every part of the world," Amari said.

Shireen Abu Akleh had been with the Al-Jazeera Arabic service since 1997. This long time with a renowned media outlet has earned her worldwide fame. It is undeniable that the occupation has silenced her forever. However, Abu Akleh will remain a journalism icon for the media generations to come. Her legacy is indelible in Palestine and the world.

The writer is a Yemeni journalist, reporting from Yemen, whose identity we are protecting for their security