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Shireen Abu Akleh: Al Jazeera journalist killed by Israeli forces while covering raid in West Bank

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An Al Jazeera correspondent was shot dead by Israeli forces while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, her broadcaster said.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian journalist, was shot and died soon after, according to Palestinian health officials. Another journalist, working for the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper, was also shot and injured in the incident.

The Israeli army denied that its forces fired on the two journalists. He said Israeli soldiers had been attacked with heavy fire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and they had returned fire. The army said it was “investigating the event and examining the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen”.

Abu Akleh was in Jenin to cover Israeli raids on Palestinian refugee camps there. Several other journalists were also at the scene and they escorted Akleh to hospital in critical condition, Palestinian Health Ministry officials said, where she was later pronounced dead.

Journalists escorting veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead in the West Bank, to hospital in Jenin

(AFP via Getty Images)

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An Al Jazeera report said the exact circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death remained unclear, but it appeared she had been shot in the head, according to fellow journalist Nida Ibrahim.

She said: “What we know for now is that the Palestinian Ministry of Health has announced his death. Shireen Abu Akleh was covering events unfolding in Jenin, in particular an Israeli raid on the city, located in the northern occupied West Bank, when she was hit by a bullet in the head.

It is a “shock for the journalists who have worked with her”, added Ibrahim.

Health Ministry officials said Al-Quds journalist Ali Samoudi, who is also Palestinian, was hit in the back by a bullet but is believed to be in stable condition.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the country had offered the Palestinians “a pathological joint investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla”.[Akleh]”.

“Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth,” the minister said on Twitter.

Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem. She started working for Al Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported on camera across the Palestinian territories.

Reactions of shock and grief poured in from around the world, along with statements condemning the actions that led to the death of a prominent journalist covering the conflict.

Mourners carry the body of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral

(AFP via Getty Images)

The Qatar-based network blamed Israel for Abu Akleh’s death. In a statement broadcast on his channel, he called on the international community to “condemn and hold accountable the Israeli occupation forces for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague, Shireen Abu Akleh”.

Condemning Abu Akleh’s death, the British Consulate in Jerusalem called for greater safety for journalists.

“Shocked to learn of the death of veteran Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh. Shireen was shot dead during an Israeli operation in the Jenin refugee camp this morning. Media freedom and safety of journalists are essential and must be respected,” the consulate said on Twitter.

British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan took to Twitter to demand a thorough and transparent investigation into the death.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of @ShireenNasri from Al Jazeera in Jenin this morning. Journalists must be allowed to work safely and freely. I urge a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation,” said the sent.

Calling Abu Akleh a close friend, Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said: “Israeli occupying forces murdered our beloved journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while she was covering their brutality in Jenin this morning.”

“Shireen Abu Akleh has covered ongoing aggression and apartheid against the Palestinian people for decades. It amplified the voices of victims that otherwise would not have been heard and conveyed crucial stories about the brutality of the occupation that would have gone unsaid,” said Ali Harb, an Al Jazeera reporter.

Former Palestinian Minister of Education Hanan Ashrawi also paid tribute to the journalist and said: “Shireen Abu Aqleh – a wonderful human being, a remarkable journalist, a longtime friend – was shot dead and murdered by the Israeli occupation army. The heart breaks. Palestine is in mourning. Rest in peace, power and love.

Additional reports by agencies

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