I chose journalism to be close to humans. It’s probably not easy to change reality but at least I have been able to convey the voice of reality to the world.Shireen Abu Akleh
On the morning of Wednesday 11 May 2022, Israeli occupying forces shot and killed Shireen Abu Akleh (aged 51), according to the Palestinian President. A prominent and courageous Palestinian journalist for Al Jazeera, Abu Akleh was covering the Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin when Israeli forces allegedly shot her in the head despite the fact that she was wearing a vest clearly marked with the word ‘PRESS’.
Additionally, Ali Samodi (aged 55), a reporter for Al-Quds newspaper, also sustained a gunshot wound to his back whilst also wearing a PRESS vest. He has reportedly been hospitalised and is in a stable condition.
Israeli forces have a track record of employing lethal force and systematically targeting Palestinian journalists with a complete lack of accountability.
Action by the international community is essential to end the unlawful killing and wounding of journalists by the Israeli forces.
Shortly after the reported news surfaced, Itamar Ben Gvir, a member of the Israeli Knesset, tweeted in support of the Israeli forces’ crimes against journalists, stating: ‘When terrorists shoot at our soldiers in Jenin, they must return fire with full force, even if there are ‘journalists’ from Al Jazeera in the area who often deliberately stand in the middle of the battle and disturb the soldiers.’
Recent Supreme Court cases in Israel have confirmed that Israel will disregard their international law obligations where they consider that they conflict with the country’s domestic law. Disrespecting international legal standards is not the hallmark of a democracy. It falls to the international community to ensure that Israel complies with its obligations instead of the current position of permitting it to act with impunity for its criminal acts.
Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers worked with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) to submit a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) about the targeted killing of journalists on 25 April 2022. We are awaiting confirmation from the ICC’s Prosecutor’s Office about the action they intend to take. The killing of Shireen and the shooting of Ali Samoodi bring to sharp focus the need for urgent action by the ICC. ICJP, together with PJS and IFJ will seek to add these cases to the complaint that is already before the ICC.
Tayab Ali, Director at ICJP, commented:
Shireen is not anonymous or a statistic. She was not a terrorist. She was one of us. She dedicated her life to one of the most important principles in a democracy – freedom of speech. As a journalist, Shireen’s work ensured that the world knew what was happening in Palestine. Journalists like Shireen and Ali are crucial in holding governments that violate international law to account. Israel’s belligerent and excessive use of force has led to irreversible damage and the killing of innocent journalists. This can no longer be allowed to continue. The international community’s inaction in the situation in Palestine is tantamount to complicity in violations of international law. We will continue our legal work to reverse Israel’s ongoing impunity.