Another Palestinian human being was murdered by Israeli security forces on May 11th 2022 in the Palestinian city of Jenin. This time the victim of the occupation and apartheid was a famous Palestinian, Shireen Abu Akleh, a face, personality and presence, that had told the Palestinian story and daily struggle with bravery and integrity on TV screens for over 25 years. It was a face and voice I have watched and listened to through her reports for Al Jazeera, a media organisation that has been targeted a number of times by Israel previously. I was shocked and upset and raging with the rest of those affected, over what had been inflicted upon yet another Palestinian, with overwhelming brutality, for daring just to exist and speak.
As soon as the Israeli state apparatus started to speak about the event, everyone sensible was able to conclude there were lies being told. The fellow Palestinian journalists with Shireen, who are corroborating eyewitnesses, one of whom was also shot, Producer Ali Al-Samoudi, clearly explained what had happened to them. They had been targeted by clearly visible Israeli soldiers, who identified themselves, to which the Palestinian journalists identified themselves back, and the Israeli soldiers continued to shoot at them anyway, shot Shireen in the head and then at anyone who came to her aide. There is tragic and upsetting video footage of this from just after Shireen is shot dead. Shatha Hanaysha is the fellow Palestinian journalist pinned down by the gunfire in the video, as her friend, mentor and colleague lay maimed next to her. B’Tselem, and Bellingcat, have already concluded in the preliminary that Palestinian gunfire directed against the Israeli security forces raid in Jenin, as initially claimed by the Israeli government as the cause of Shireen’s death, did not have line of sight on Shireen and her team and was very unlikely to have been the cause of her death.
Was she targeted because she was a journalist? Without doubt. Dozens of Palestinian journalists have been killed by Israeli security forces since 2000. It is policy. Was Shireen targeted because she was a Palestinian? Always. Thousands of Palestinians, children, women, men, the elderly and infirm have been killed and murdered by Israeli security forces in the same time period. It. Is. The. Policy. Of. An. Apartheid. State.
The Israeli security forces who were raiding Jenin in the West Bank of Palestine were illegitimately and unlawfully upholding the occupation and apartheid of Palestinian land and lives. Policies and actions that have again and again and again and again, for decades, been agreed by the vast majority of world governments, Human Rights organisations, international law experts and the majority of the opinion of citizens of the world to be wrong, immoral and breaking international law.
The enablers of the Israeli apartheid in the ‘west’, including my own government in the UK, were quick to condemn the attack on Shireen, her team and the free press, but there is nothing tangible behind these words. There will be no real consequences. As Russia is sanctioned to the hilt for their immoral and illegal invasion of Ukraine, including targeting standard Russians through these sanctions, Israel’s supporters cannot even bring themselves to support or accept the legitimacy of the Palestinian-led call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Instead claiming it is antisemitic in its aims in simply calling for the holding to account the state and private apparatus in Israel which is linked to the grinding decades long occupation and apartheid of the Palestinian people and their land.
Someone very close to me suggested I light a candle to commemorate Shireen Abu Akleh’s name and memory. This candle must continue to burn in all of our minds, in our voices and through our actions as the global citizenry in supporting the Palestinian moral and lawful right to peace and justice.
Free, Free Palestine.