A Palestinian American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh who worked for Al Jazeera was brutally shot in the head by an Israeli sniper on Wednesday morning. She was covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin, in the northern occupied West Bank. The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides also confirmed Shireen Abu Akleh was a Palestinian American citizen. While Israeli officials are giving conflicting statements, Nides ordered a thorough investigation in the circumstances in which she died. The Palestinian Ministry of Health and Al Jazeera and journalists who witnessed the incident said she was killed through a headshot by Israeli gunfire.
On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Israeli military gave a conflicting statements; the PM said “it appears likely that Palestinian armed men who were firing at that time were responsible for the killing of the journalist.” However later in the day, they changed their stance from their initial statement, Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, said in a statement that “at this moment, it is not possible to conclude without investigation from which fire Abu Akleh was killed.”
The Bigger Picture
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett showed a video of Palestinian freedom fighter firing and shouting that an Israeli military officer was hit. His attempt was aimed at showing that Shireen was hit by Palestinian gunmen. But later to this backdrop scene, Al Jazeera also shared a video of Shireen’s body laid on the ground from a completely different angle. In Al Jazeera video, her body was in a completely different location which shows that Bennett’s video was only an attempt to control the damage. B’tselem human rights group also published another video of Shireen that was filmed by a field researcher.
This video clearly shows that the locations in the aforementioned two videos are hundreds of meters apart. Israeli prime minister said no Israeli officer was killed during the clashes. Shireen was a senior and well-respected journalist who had worked for Al Jazeera since 1997. In her shining career, she covered the West Bank affairs for more than two decades. Al Jazeera plainly said that the Israel Defense Forces deliberately “assassinated Abu Akleh in cold blood”. Al Jazeera in a statement said, “We are committed to take legal action against those who brutally shot her dead.” Al Jazeera has also called the world to condemn her murder and hold the Israeli government responsible.
A Pakistani Response
Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif in a tweet bashed Israel for shooting Shireen Abu Akleh. PM Sharif called out the “assassination” in a message posted on Twitter. He said: “Silencing voices of those who tell stories of oppressed people are part of a deliberate strategy employed by Israel,” Article 79 of Geneva Conventions officially states that journalists engaged in war zone missions are civilians within the meaning of Article 50 (1). Under international humanitarian law, journalists covering stories from war zones are legally allowed to enjoy the full scope of protection granted to civilians.
Therefore, hostilities against journalists from either side of parties involved in the war are considered a crime. The United Nations members consider the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied land as illegal. Their illegal occupation is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and they are in breach of international declarations on Palestine.
All organs under the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention has confirmed that the Fourth Geneva Convention legally applies to the Israeli-occupied land in Palestine. Furthermore, numerous United Nations resolutions and prevailing global opinion consider that Israeli illegal settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are in complete violation of international law.
Especially, UN Security Council resolutions in 1979, 1980, and 2016 explicitly deny Israeli territorial claims. UN Security Council Resolution 446 refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention as a legal instrument to this case. It calls upon the Israeli government and military establishment to desist from transferring its own population into the Palestinian territories. Therefore, any change in Palestinian demography is legally not permissible and deliberately killing their handful of journalists is not only an act of war but also against all forms of natural law.
Sabtain Ahmed Dar is a Pakistani academic and political scientist who teaches philosophy and international relations at the University of Lahore. He specializes in the Middle East and South Asian affairs and regularly contributes stories from these two regions.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.