Israel faced international outrage and demands for an independent inquiry on Wednesday after a veteran US-Palestinian journalist was shot dead in the occupied West Bank.
Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, died after suffering a single gunshot to the head during an Israeli military raid on the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp.
Abu Akleh’s producer, Palestinian journalist Ali Samoudi, was shot in the back in Wednesday’s incident and taken to hospital, where he was in a stable condition.
Israel initially blamed the shootings on Palestinian gunmen. “It appears likely that armed Palestinians, who were firing indiscriminately at the time, were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.
However, as witnesses came forward and video footage of the incident emerged, Israel backtracked.
“At this stage, we cannot determine by whose fire she was harmed and we regret her death,” army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said.
Abu Akleh, who was born in Jerusalem but was a US citizen, worked for the Al Jazeera network in Qatar. She was a respected and familiar face in the Middle East, known for her coverage of the harsh realities of Israel’s military occupation since she joined the network in 1997.
Samoudi, who survived his injury, told Arab News there were no Palestinian gunmen in the area. He described how the news crew advanced up a street carrying their cameras and wearing bulletproof vests on which the “Press” sign was visible.
Samoudi said there were no pedestrians in the street, there was no exchange of fire, and not even stones were thrown toward the troops.