Israeli forces killed a Palestinian American journalist for the Al Jazeera news network in the West Bank early Wednesday, according to the network and the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israel said the journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed in an exchange of gunfire and called for an investigation.
Abu Akleh, 51, a longtime Al Jazeera correspondent, was shot in the head while covering Israeli raids in the Jenin refugee camp, according to the network and the ministry. She was taken to a hospital before dying from her wounds.
In a statement, Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of killing Abu Akleh “in cold blood” and said she had been “clearly wearing a press jacket that identifies her as a journalist.” In interviews, multiple eyewitnesses — including two journalists who were standing next to Abu Akleh — disputed Israeli assertions that she was killed during crossfire, saying the area was relatively quiet just before Abu Akleh was shot.
“It was dead quiet,” one of the journalists, Ali al-Samudi, who was also injured by gunfire, said in an interview from his hospital bed.
In a statement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the shooting occurred while the Israel Defense Forces were conducting counterterrorism operations in Jenin, after a spate of deadly attacks over the past few weeks in Israeli cities. During the operation, he said, “armed Palestinians shot in an inaccurate, indiscriminate and uncontrolled manner.”
“Our forces from the IDF returned fire as accurately, carefully and responsibly as possible. Sadly, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in the exchange,” he said. “To uncover the truth, there must be a real investigation, and the Palestinians are currently preventing that. Without a serious investigation, we will not reach the truth.”