Journalists mark Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing anniversary

The FBI has not publicly released any findings nor has the investigation led to any statements of responsibility or arrests [Getty]

Hundreds of journalists, activists, and social media users marked the second anniversary of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot by an Israeli sniper while covering events in the West Bank.

The Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] said it was “deeply alarmed” at the lack of accountability over the killing of the veteran reporter – a household name in the region – on 11 May 2022.

The group urged the US Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] to release a timeline for the conclusion of its now 18-month investigation into the killing.

The CPJ also called on the International Criminal Court [ICJ] to investigate the case as the Abu Akleh family and her employer, Al Jazeera, have requested, and on Israel to cooperate.

“Israel continues to shield itself from accountability by deliberately refusing to cooperate with the FBI and by indicating it won’t let its soldiers be questioned before the International Criminal Court should it open an investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing,” said CPJ program director Carlos Martínez de la Serna in New York.

“It is time to break Israel’s longstanding impunity in journalist killings, which have only multiplied in the Israel-Gaza war. The FBI needs to disclose a timeline for the conclusion of its investigation, and Israel must cooperate with the FBI probe and any future ICC probe.”

Last November, the US Department of Justice notified Israel of the FBI investigation, and Israel said it would not cooperate with the probe.

The FBI has not publicly released any findings nor has the investigation led to any statements of responsibility or arrests.

In 2022, Abu Akleh’s family and Al Jazeera submitted requests for the ICC to investigate and prosecute the killing.

At the time of the Al Jazeera filing in December 2022, Israel’s then-Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, said that “no one will interrogate IDF soldiers”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not commented on the Abu Akleh filings.

Dressed in a blue vest marked with the word “press”, Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israeli raid in Jenin, a city in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Since her killing, institutions, civil societies, and various organisations launched solidarity campaigns to honour her legacy. Memorials were built in her honour, scholarships created in her name and countless awards presented to her posthumously.

Students at Harvard University in the US named one of the institution’s halls ‘Shireen Abu Akleh Hall’ to mark the second anniversary of her death.

In San Francisco, several hundred people gathered at the Embarcadero for a vigil to mourn Abu Akleh.

“2 years on, and Israel has not been held accountable for deliberately murdering Shireen Abu Akleh or violently attacking her funeral,” British Palestinian journalist Hamza Ali Shah posted on X.

“It’s been 2 years since my aunt #ShireenAbuAkleh was killed by an Israeli soldier and life has not been the same since. No one has been held accountable & the U.S. has failed our family in holding the killer responsible. #JusticeforShireen,” Lina Abu Akleh posted on X.

Several investigations into Abu Akleh’s killing concluded that she was shot by a member of the Israeli forces, with one analysis by CNN saying there was evidence that Abu Akleh was deliberately targeted.

A UN commission also said Israel “intentionally or recklessly” killed Abu Akleh while she was covering an Israeli military raid in Jenin.

In September 2022, the Israeli military issued a statement on its internal probe that concluded there was a “high possibility” that Abu Akleh was “accidentally” killed by Israeli forces.

The military refused to open a criminal investigation into the killing, and its spokesperson Daniel Hagari apologised in May 2023 for Abu Akleh’s death on CNN.

His apology came after the CPJ published a report entitled “Deadly Pattern”, revealing that Israel had failed to hold its soldiers to account for 20 journalist killings in 22 years.

Journalists continue to be targeted by Israeli forces, who have killed at least 143 journalists and media workers since 7 October when Israel’s war on the besieged Gaza Strip began.

The United Nations confirmed that the Gaza Strip has become the most dangerous place in the world for journalists and their families.

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