Journalist Assassination: Are Israeli Defense Forces Out of Control?

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 23 May 2022

Robin Edward Poulton, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

18 May 2022 Israeli Soldier Kills Al Jazeera Journalist on 11 May 2022

The Late Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, murdered on 11th May 2022.
International Press Institute

On Wednesday, 11th May 2022, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced the death of a famous Al-Jazeera journalist, Ms Shireen Abu Akleh. She had been reporting on an Israeli raid on a Palestinian house, wearing a blue helmet and a blue vest with PRESS written in large white letters when, according to witnesses and Al-Jazeera, she was shot and killed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

People who are privileged to live in a “liberal democracy” are taught to treasure journalists as sources of information, gatherers of news, and analysts of everything that is happening around us. When Journalists are under threat, then our “liberal democracy” and our way of life are also under threat.

Israel’s Defense Forces are clearly a threat to democracy and free expression in Israel and in Palestine. They are certainly not defending journalists and the people’s right to information. Despite her PRESS sign and her protective gear, it seems that an army sniper deliberately shot Shireen in the face. Shireen Abu Akleh died before reaching hospital.  Al-Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately targeting the victim.

Has the Israeli security establishment gone completely mad?

It gets worse: at her funeral three days later, Israeli police attacked and beat mourners, leading to Shireen’s casket falling to the ground. Who ordered such a stupid police raid? And why?  How could such a brutal act of aggression and desecration – showing complete disrespect for the dead and for those in mourning – possibly improve Israeli life, security or regional peace? It seems there are people in the Israeli security forces who are out of control.

Police attack Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral procession. CBS News

This war crime has been extensively reported by The New York Times, Al-Jazeera and other media. The question now arises whether the IDF will be sanctioned for a war crime, or whether NYT and AJ journalists will be arrested for revealing that a war crime was carried out by a close U.S. ally.

How will Israel and the U.S.A. respond to news reporting of this War Crime?

Will other journalists now be attacked by the Israeli and American authorities, and persecuted for reporting this Israeli war crime. Will they be locked up for publishing pictures that have shamed Israel around the world?

A very similar war crime was carried out by U.S. troops in Iraq on 12th July 2007, when Reuters News Agency photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and Reuters driver Saeed Chmagh, were killed in a U.S. helicopter air strike in the New Baghdad district of eastern Baghdad. There had been reports of clashes between U.S. forces and insurgents in the area but there was no sign of any fighting on the street. The journalists were clearly identified, and then shot by U.S. soldiers.

You can witness that war crime here on the following 18-minute video:

You can hear Voice of America report (3 minutes) this incident here:

The video shows how after a dozen men have been shot, including the Reuters journalist carrying his news camera, a civilian minivan stops to help the wounded Saeed, the Reuters driver. Some men pick up Saeed and lay him in the van. We hear U.S. soldiers begging for permission to kill them. The U.S. helicopter then opens fire, destroying the minivan and killing the unarmed wounded driver and his rescuers.

Eight minutes later U.S. ground troops arrive and discover two wounded children inside the minivan. “It’s their fault,” comments the U.S. soldier-assassin hovering safely overhead in his helicopter gunship, “for bringing their children to a battle.”

Bringing children to a battle? This was no battle. There was no military vehicle present. This was the deliberate assassination of civilians. The civilian family minivan stopped to help a wounded man get medical assistance. Then it was filled with American bullets.

The U.S. soldier-assassin guilty of the original shooting appears to have mistaken Namir’s camera for a firearm: photo-journalist Namir was killed for carrying his camera. The video throws a seriously sinister light on the U.S. military, because the U.S. soldiers’ conversation sounds as if they are playing a video game, instead of taking people’s lives. Their careless conversation and callous indifference to human life are chilling. Is this what the American Army is about?

The U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general said in 2008  – in a statement that outside observers considered a whitewash of the whole incident – that the U.S. soldiers in Iraq acted within military rules. So within U.S. military rules, a journalist with a camera can be assassinated. The Pentagon investigated its own killing of a journalist and declared itself innocent. Hallelujah!

America’s war-crimes are barely investigated by American officials, let alone prosecuted. Middle Eastern life is cheap, Americans do not care about foreigners. The soldier-assassins live free in America, while Julian Asange and Bradley/Chelsea Manning have been persecuted for more than a decade because they were the journalist (Asange) and the whistle-blower (Manning) who courageously revealed to the world this American war crime in Iraq.

America has proved – with disgraceful connivance from Britain and Sweden – that investigative journalists can be persecuted. Meanwhile the military grants itself immunity from prosecution, even when a War Crime has been caught on camera and viewed by millions around the world.

Will Israel now do better than its American ally? Will Shireen Abu Akleh’s assassination be investigated, and will the killer be prosecuted? Will the Israeli police be supported by Israeli politicians, even after they broke up Shireen’s funeral procession? Is there no sense of decency in Israel?

Surely New York Times journalists and other news media are now at grave risk of following Asange into the gaping maw of American injustice and military persecution, because they have revealed that an allied Israeli soldier has assassinated a woman journalist.

Journalists need protection

I join my voice, for what little it is worth, to demands for an independent enquiry into the assassination of Shireen, and for the assassination of Namir and Saeed.

I am not a betting man; but if I were a gambler, I would put no money on the probability that the Israeli soldier guilty of this war crime will be punished. Israel and America are ruled by men with military uniforms. I have been lobbying for years to get Asange freed by the British Justice System, and it has simply caved in to the U.S. military. I would put no money, ever, on achieving justice for investigative journalists in UK, USA or Israel.

The military in America and in Israel are seemingly a law under themselves.

The American Way provides immunity to war criminals, while the Americans happily persecute everyone else. Might and White are Right (and a witness to toxic White Masculinity) in the U.S. of A.

__________________________________

Robin Poulton, Chevalier de l’Ordre Royal du Sahametrei (Cambodia), Chevalier de l’Ordre National (Mali), is a member of the TRANSCEND Network who has been working in West African peace and development since 1980. An International Peace Consultant and founder of EPES Mandala Consulting Ltd., former Weapons-for-Development advisor to EU-ASAC, researcher with UNIDIR Geneva (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research), School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, West Africa Research Association and elsewhere, he is author most recently of Peace Is Possible about peace building and disarmament in Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge. Website: https://robinpoulton.com/. Email: poultonrobin@gmail.com

 

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 May 2022.

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