For a quarter of a century, Shireen Abu Akleh held a microphone in her hand, the only weapon she had at her disposal, to tell the truth about the Israeli enemy that has usurped her homeland. She travelled all over occupied Palestine to expose Israel's brutal crimes and occupation, and reveal the falsehood of its claims. She tore its mask off and exposed the reality of its ugly racism for the whole world to see. She did so with honesty and sincerity in a highly professional manner.
For a quarter of a century, Shireen came into our homes and made us feel like members of her family, not just television viewers. She was our guest, not a stranger, which is why millions were so shocked by her horrific murder at the hands of a soldier from the very same Israeli usurper state.
Shireen Abu Akleh devoted her life to serving Palestine until the last moment in her life. She put herself at the heart of major events affecting her homeland and people; she witnessed the brutal attacks of the occupation forces and was able to convey their suffering and pain for all to see. Palestinians everywhere bonded with her, and she was torn apart by the horror of their tragedy. She has witnessed Israel's theft of Palestinian land; the construction of illegal settlements; the Judaisation of old Palestinian towns and villages; the confiscation and demolition of Palestinian homes; the expulsion and displacement of their residents; and the razing of villages to the ground in order to prevent their owners from farming their own land. Shireen stood with the Palestinians waiting patiently at humiliating military checkpoints set up by the occupation to impede their movement and disrupt their lives. She followed the daily arrests at dawn every day, and reported on the murders committed by the Israeli occupation forces.
This courageous Al Jazeera journalist covered stories all over occupied Palestine, including Jenin, where she was destined to be killed; yet another Palestinian victim of Israel's occupation. The video evidence is clear that she was shot in the head while covering the occupation army raids on Jenin refugee camp despite wearing a vest and helmet identifying her as a member of the press. Her blood soaked into the soil of the camp where many other Palestinians have been killed before her. She had shed tears for the camp's martyrs; now the people of Jenin shed tears for her. Instead of reporting the news, she became the news.
As usual, Israel claimed that the bullet which killed Shireen was fired by a Palestinian during an exchange of fire with the occupation army. This claim was refuted by Shireen's colleague, Ali Al-Samoudi, who was with her when she was shot and was also wounded when he was shot in the back. Journalist Shatha Hanatsheh was next to Shireen when she was shot; she too confirmed that there was no exchange of fire at the time. Indeed, there were no armed fighters nearby, and no armed clashes. The sniper who shot her targeted her to silence the voice of truth and deter other journalists from exposing Israel's crimes.
The Israelis are trying every trick in their propaganda book to justify what happened, but nobody believes a word that they say. World leaders, the UN Security Council and international organisations have condemned Shireen's killing. The Israeli Chief of Staff announced that an investigation has been opened, and leaks have started to appear in Israeli media such as Haaretz and Channel 9. The claims are refutable by the video evidence: there was no exchange of fire, and the sniper had a very clear target to aim at; he did not have a restricted view.
So the Zionists killed Shireen, whose truthful reports terrified them. But they did not stop there. Even when she was in her coffin, they attacked the mourners — some officers were mounted on horses were used — in an effort to disrupt her funeral. Israel banned the people from carrying her coffin on foot to the cemetery, as is customary; thousands were prevented from bidding her farewell. US President Joe Biden was so shocked by the scenes at Shireen's funeral as Israeli security forces clashed with mourners that he has called for an investigation. Despite Israel's harassment and arrogance, Shireen's funeral was massive, the likes of which was not even granted to Yasser Arafat. The Palestinian flag was also banned, but this will not stop the people of occupied Palestine from making their legitimate claims to their land; a flag is a piece of cloth, but the people have deep roots in Palestine, in Jerusalem, and will return one day to the city and the land.
"Beware of natural death," wrote Ghassan Kanafani. "Do not die, but amidst the hail of bullets."
That was Shireen Abu Akleh's destiny. She did not live to see the broadcast of her final report on the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. Millions, though, heard her voice. Shireen may be gone, but the truth remains: Israel is a brutal occupation state.
On 23 November 2019, EuroPal Forum and Middle East Monitor co-hosted a conference at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in London on the relations between Europe and Palestine. A first of its kind, the conference brought together individuals at the forefront of discourse on Palestine in
As the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules that European Union countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, MEMO and EuroPal Forum are hosting a conference to discuss the EU’s position on major issues related to the occupat