Shireen Abu Akleh: Israel's killing of Palestinian journalist a 'feature in Zionist system'
Celebrated journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Wednesday became the latest Palestinian media worker to be killed by Israeli forces in what human rights defenders have said is part and parcel of Tel Aviv's systematic oppression of Palestinians.
Abu Akleh, 51, was reporting for Al Jazeera about an Israeli raid on Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank when she was shot in the head, despite wearing a vest that identified her as press.
The shooting of Abu Akleh brings the number of journalists killed by the Israeli military since the year 2000 to 55, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said. Countless others have been wounded.
"Many Palestinians of my generation grew up watching Shireen and aspired to become like her: reporters of truth, in spite of the deadly risks," said Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian activist, poet and reporter for The Nation.
"And it was because of her work [that] Shireen was murdered – much like the many journalists targeted, harassed, jailed and killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces.
"This is not a bug but rather a feature in the Zionist system."
Amnesty International deputy Middle East and North Africa director Saleh Higazi linked Abu Akleh's killing to the system of apartheid his organisation concluded Israel practises in a historic February report.
"Apartheid is both a system and a crime against humanity," he told The New Arab.
"To maintain the system, Israel perpetrates unlawful acts – grave human rights violations and crimes – including unlawful killings.
"Unlawful killings not only of [ordinary] people, but also those who are trying to cover and expose the crimes, like we've seen today."
In 2018, Yasser Murtaja, a 30-year-old Palestinian journalist and Ain Media cofounder, was killed by Israeli army gunfire in Gaza, also while wearing a vest identifying him as press.
The next day, Reporters Without Borders said Israel had "deliberately" attacked journalists.
Murtaja had been reporting on the Great March of Return, a series of protests in the besieged enclave in 2018 and 2019 that called for Palestinian refugees to be let back to homes they were ethnically cleansed from decades prior.
Last month during Ramadan, Israeli security repeatedly raided occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque – the third-holiest site in Islam – with several Palestinian media workers telling The New Arab that they were "deliberately assaulted".
As Rami Al-Khatib, a 43-year-old Palestinian cameraman, was attacked by Israeli forces, he said: "Why are you beating me?"
Palestinian journalists 'deliberately assaulted' by Israeli police at Al-Aqsahttps://t.co/uToGfW5nqk— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) April 21, 2022
While Al-Khatib survived his ordeal, he was left with a broken right hand and camera.
Higazi said Abu Akleh's age, prominence and US-Palestinian dual nationality were possible reasons why her case has received more attention than other killings.
"We've been receiving messages from our colleagues across the Middle East and North Africa expressing their sadness and their condolences, and their shock about hearing the news," he said.
"Everybody knows Shireen. She's been reporting for over a quarter of a century now."
Higazi noted Abu Akleh's work ethic, explaining that she could be seen on TV day and night and reported from across the West Bank.
"Sometimes, you know, you wonder – does this woman ever sleep?" he said.