FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. - May 16, 2022
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Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Condemns the Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and Calls on US Government to Investigate Murder of the Palestinian-American Journalist
On Wednesday, May 11, Shireen Abu Akleh, a high-profile Palestinian-American journalist, was shot and killed while covering a raid conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank city of Jenin. Abu Akleh was wearing protective gear prominently marked with the English word “PRESS” when she was shot. Ali Samoudi, another journalist with Abu Akleh, was shot in the back during the same attack. Samoudi said the group of journalists Abu Akleh worked with that day had made Israeli forces aware they were present to cover the incursion. He also stated that in the attack, one bullet missed, the next one struck him in the back, and the next shot hit Abu Akleh. She was taken to the hospital soon thereafter and pronounced dead.
Israeli representatives, including the Israeli Prime Minister, initially suggested the journalist had been shot by Palestinian gunmen, but subsequently, Israeli officials have been more cautious in their public statements. Palestinian witnesses at the scene claim an Israeli sniper targeted the journalists. Following the killing, Israeli authorities circulated video footage of Palestinian gunmen firing down an alleyway, suggesting that it was this gunfire that killed Abu Akleh, but Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has since demonstrated that the footage was taken in a different part of the city from where Abu Akleh was killed.
This is not the first time Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian journalist. For example, an Israeli sniper killed Yaser Murtaja, a Palestinian reporter covering the Great March of Return in Gaza in 2018. Like Abu Akleh, Murtaja was also wearing a vest with the word PRESS when he was shot. According to the United Nations, more than 40 Palestinian Journalists have been killed by Israeli forces since 2000. As was the case with Abu Akleh and Murtaja, these killings included journalists clearly marked as press.
CMEP is shocked at the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh. Freedom of the press must be protected, and the killing of journalists, especially when they are plainly distinguishable by their press vests, represents a clear violation of international law. CMEP’s executive director Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, says, “We are deeply grieved by this news and condemn the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh. Our hearts go out to her family and loved ones. We call for an investigation and will advocate for accountability.” CMEP calls on the United States to ensure a fair and independent investigation into Abu Akleh’s murder and to hold the responsible parties accountable.