The Forgotten Journalists (Part 1): The Assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh


Prof Hoosen Vawda – TRANSCEND Media Service

Antony Has Spoken: The Assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh on 11 May 2022[1] – May Her Soul Rest in Peace

 The Targeted, Governmental Extrajudicial Execution of Journalists Who Are Classified as Personae Non Gratae and Enemies of the State[2]

A giant mural in memory of the extrajudicial killing of Al Jazeera journalist, Ms Shireen Abu Akleh on 11th May 2022, has sparked international outrage and calls for justice, Palestinian women stand in front of a mural, part of an art exhibit honouring Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
[File: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP][3]

This series of publications present the age-old practice of silencing, any voices which are perceived as a threat to monarchs, tyrants, dictators and oppressive regimes by official decrees or more easily, in the current day politics of using the mechanism of extrajudicial, targeted killings of prespecified persons including journalists, globally.  Wednesday, 11th May 2022 will be recorded in the annals of international history of all journalists, as the darkest day, for the espoused Freedom of Press, which the western World always talks about and propagates as a foundational principal of a democratic state.  This is particularly applicable to stance  taken by the United States, when democracy and a beacon of truth, in the form of an American-Palestinian, female journalist, Ms Shireen Abu Akleh, were mercilessly annihilated and removed, as a symbol, as well as a voice of hope, for the subjugated, oppressed and dehumanised people of the occupied State of Palestine. Abu Akleh worked for Al Jazeera for 25 years and was killed while covering an Israeli military raid conducted as part of a counterterrorism campaign in the West Bank city of Jenin on 11th May, 2022.  Israel first claimed that the journalist was caught in the crossfire and shot by Palestinians. Then, in September, 2022, a report was released by the Israeli army concluding that Abu Akleh was likely hit by its forces, albeit mistakenly.[4]  Abu Akleh’s family responded to Israel’s statement referencing independent investigations conducted by CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times and others.[5] This objective of “exfoliation” of journalists, who are classified as enemies of oppressive, apartheid state, was effectively achieved, forever, by the aggressive security forces, who mounted an assassination operation, of the Zionist Government of Israel. The death has highlighted the dangers journalists face while covering the Israeli-Palestinian, conflict, as well as other political turmoil, anywhere in the world., with no accountability, nor punishment of the individuals involved in this state organized extrajudicial, approved executions of journalists who are only accomplishing their assigned tasks in a democratic society.[6]

Main Photo: The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signs a guest book before his meeting with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog on March 27, 2022, in Jerusalem File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo[7]
 Inset Left: Picture of American-Palestinian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh 
As featured by Al Jazeera 12th May 2022[8]
 Inset Right: Abigail Suzanne ‘Abby’ Martin an American journalist, TV presenter, and activist who dared to confront the Secretary of State Antony Blinken at ASU California Centre on the US hypocrisy regarding the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh.[9]
 “The Two Women who made life extremely awkward for Secretary of State Antony Blinken”[10]

According to Al Jazeera International English service relayed from DOHA, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the second most powerful person in the Biden Administration has spoken, at last and  has promised to pursue accountability for the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, wherever facts lead, calling for an “independent” probe into the incident[11].  Secretary Antony Blinken’s call for an independent probe came as the administration of President Joe Biden insisted that Israel should be the party leading the investigation into the killing, amid calls for the FBI to conduct its own review. Washington has also rejected Palestinian calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes more broadly.  It was not clear what the top US diplomat meant by “independent”; the Department of State did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for clarification by the time of publication. On 07th June 2022, appearing at a forum for student journalists on the sidelines of a Latin America summit in Los Angeles, Secretary Antony Blinken was confronted by Abigail Suzanne Martin, born 06th September 1984, is an American journalist, TV presenter, and activist, AKA, Abby Martin[12], the host of the independent documentary and interview series The Empire Files, why there have been “absolutely no repercussions” for Israel over the killing of Abu Akleh.  “We are looking for an independent, credible investigation. When that investigation happens, we will follow the facts, wherever they lead. It’s as straightforward as that,” he said.  This response to the question raised by Ms Abby Martin, directed to Secretary Blinken,[13] was in response to Secretary Antony Blinkens speech which was all about how United States protects free speech throughout the world and the hypocrisy evident when it concerned Shireen Abu Akleh’s assassination by Israeli Defence Force, in Jenin, while covering an Israeli raid that morning.[14]

The Assassinated Al Jazeera Reporter, Ms Shireen Abu Akleh’s Family, meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis in the Vatican in Rome[15]   (Photo: via Twitter)

According to i24 News of 30th October 2033, the family of Shireen Abu Akleh flew to Rome, ahead of memorial mass held in her honor, and stated that Pontiff expressed support in the family’s ‘pursuit of justice for Shireen’[16]  The niece of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh said that her family met with Pope Francis this week, six months after her aunt’s death. “Yesterday, my family and I had the honor of meeting with his Holiness Pope Francis, who gave us his blessings and showed sympathy and support towards our pursuit for justice for Shireen,” Lina Abu Akleh wrote on Twitter.[17]  The assassinated Shireen’s brother Tony, his wife and two daughters were guests in the Vatican City on Wednesday ahead of a memorial mass to commemorate Shireen’s life. The ceremony was held at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin[18] in Rome.   Lina has also been vocal in criticizing the Biden administration and its refusal to open an independent investigation into Abu Akleh’s murder. She was invited to Washington several months ago with her family, meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and several other lawmakers.

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, in which the memorial mas was held for Miss Shireen Abu Akleh by His Holiness Pope Francis.[19]

The Bottom Line, is summarised by Al Jazeera who interviewed on 12th May 2022, Marc Owen Jones, an Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, who said that Israel has a track record of creating ambiguity over social media as a strategy to “muddy the waters,” knowing that many press accounts will repeat their claims and tat is exactlyly what happened. The Western Media were particular in using euphemistic language in describing the violent scenes generated by the Israeli Defence Force attacking mourners with batons, which almost led to the coffin containing Shireen Abu Akleh’s body being dropped.  The obfuscation was unprecedented and the obvious bias was evident by reputable media like BBC. in their reporting of the assassination, as well as the subsequent funeral coverage of Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral, in Jerusalem.  Posting an unedited video in response to CBS, a user asked: “Why was this clip cut?… to falsify the facts of course.”[20]

In fact, the actual footage was stunning for its clear view of one-sided violence—beginning unmistakably when helmeted Israeli forces stormed the crowd and began to beat pallbearers with batons. The pallbearers stumble and are sometimes ripped from their positions, but they never retaliate. One tries to shield his head with his arm. A man wearing jeans, tennis shoes and a sleeveless shirt kicks at the helmeted, uniformed police, trying to stop them from hitting the pallbearers. Those carrying the coffin do all they can to prevent it from falling, ignoring the blows.[21]  The Intercept of 13th May 202, noted the footage that unfolded on live television, stunned viewers and only “intensified the outrage over her death.” Video was quickly remixed and shared, and the article linked a 45-second video on Twitter of 13th May 2022 posted by Rushdi Abualouf, a Palestinian journalist working for the BBC. Described as “the closest video” of the attack, it mixed Arab instrumental music over a slowed version that show helmeted, uniformed riot police singling out pallbearers and smashing their bare arms with batons as mourners struggled to keep the casket upright.[22]  Throughout the reporting of the funeral, the language of obfuscation, was predominant by nearly all western media because the Empire is not only watching by listening as well. Mirroring the euphemism-dominated coverage of Abu Akleh’s killing as reported by on 20th May 2022[23], many of the first corporate press reports employed language that mystified what was happening at the funeral.

Mint Press News editor Alan MacLeod recognized the language of obfuscation, posting a series of news headlines on Twitter 13th May 2022 that transformed black-clad Israeli riot squads wantonly beating pallbearers into “clashes.” Referring to an article he wrote for FAIR (12/13/19), MacLeod (5/14/22) observed that the word “clash” is used by media “when they have to report on violence, but desperately want to obscure who the perpetrators are.”[24]

Violence comes from nowhere, it simply erupts: CBS‘s headline (5/13/22) was, “Shireen Abu Akleh Funeral Sees Clashes Between Israeli Forces and Palestinian,” updated later that day to report that “Violence Erupts” at the funeral as Israeli forces “Confront” mourners. The Times of Israel (5/13/22) had “Violence Erupts as Journalist’s Casket Emerges From Jerusalem Hospital.” And the BBC (5/13/22) went with “Shireen Abu Akleh: Violence at Al Jazeera Reporter’s Funeral in Jerusalem.”[25]

Essentially, an unarmed, female journalist, an American citizen, working for Al Jazeera perceived as am agent for propagating Palestinian views and support of the State of Palestine which Israel does not recognize and called PA by Ned Price in the Biden Administration has been assassinated and Israel has not accepted responsibility, at all.  More importantly, as a Catholic Christian she was exfoliated from her 25 year role, forever,  as the voice of Palestine and President Biden was not happy to even meet the family of the late journalist.  Furthermore, United States was extremely unhappy about Al Jazeera International Media has lodged an official complaint against Israel in the International Criminal Court on 06th December 2022. Al Jazeera has called Abu Akleh’s killing a “blatant murder” that violates “international laws and norms”. In its statement on 08th December 2022, the network said according to Article 8 of the ICC charter, “targeting war correspondents, or journalists working in war zones or occupied territories by killing or physically assaulting them, is a war crime”.[26]  “The Network vows to follow every path to achieve justice for Shireen, and ensure those responsible for her killing are brought to justice and held accountable in all international justice and legal platforms and courts,” the media outlet added.

In addition, the Palestinian Authority has also formally asked the ICC to investigate Abu Akleh’s death. “We have documented [the crime] and submitted a file about it to the ICC prosecutor alongside other Israeli violations,” Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said on 05th December 2022.[27]

The journalists, globally, as well as the justice seekers ask what are the expectations from the ICC? Earlier this week, the General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative accused the ICC of a “double standard” in its handling of cases submitted by Palestinians. “We have been providing information for the past 13 years but investigation has not been started yet, and in less than two months the ICC has sent 42 investigators to Ukraine,” Mustafa Barghouti, a former Palestinian information minister, said.[28]  International experts have often alleged the ICC holds a bias against African nations and others in the Global South, while ignoring human rights abuses committed by Western nations and their allies. Nevertheless, the Palestinians previously welcomed the ICC’s announcement in March 2021 that it would be opening a formal inquiry into human rights abuses committed by Israel in the occupied territories since June 2014. The court has said it had jurisdiction in the Israel-occupied Palestinian territories.[29]

Israel’s leader at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself is under a corruption investigation and was re-elected, accused the ICC of “anti-Semitism”, calling it an “attack” on his country. Israel is one of the few countries, including China and the United States, that is not a member of the ICC and therefore claims it has no jurisdiction over its actions.[30] The administration of US President Joe Biden has previously criticised the ICC’s effort to assert jurisdiction over Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.[31]

It is interesting to note that on another personal level, a complaint was submitted to ICC, as well.[32] The family of killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has submitted an official complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to demand justice for her death.[33]  Speaking in front of the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, on Tuesday, Abu Akleh’s brother Anton said that they would do whatever was necessary to ensure accountability for her killing.

“Like we said before, and like other reports said previously, there were more than 16 shots fired towards Shireen and the media and her colleagues who were standing in that ally,” Anton Abu Akleh said. “They even targeted the person who was trying to pull her into safety after she was shot down.”[34] He went on to say that the Israeli soldiers were able to identify who Abu Akleh was.  “She was in full gear, and she was clearly noted as press,” he said. “Any person shooting at the press is intentionally trying to kill them.”

The ICC decided in 2021 that it has jurisdiction over violence and war crimes that have occurred in the occupied Palestinian territories. “That’s why there is some hope here by Palestinian journalists and the government that there will be a start into the investigation here into these cases, including the case of Shireen Abu Akleh,” Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen said, speaking at The Hague. The complaint is supported by the Palestinian Press Syndicate and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).[35]  Mr Jim Boumhelha, the former president of the IFJ, said it was a “historic day” not just for Abu Akleh’s family, but for Palestinian journalists who have been on the receiving end of attacks by Israeli forces.  “We do hope that people inside the prosecution will take very seriously the document that we have given them,” he told Al Jazeera. “This is the first stage, and we are going through the motions.” [36]

Ms Lina Abu Akleh issued the following statement on Twitter  “Today my family is at the International Criminal Court to submit a formal complaint, calling on the international community to investigate Israel’s killing of my aunt Shireen Abu Akleh, and deliver accountability and justice where others have failed. Our family statement below”[37]

Actual Statement of Complaint to ICC in Hague, submitted by the Family of Shireen Abu Akleh, as one of the tripartite complaints to ICC regarding the assassination of Journalist Miss Shireen Abu Akleh, by the Israel Defence Force[38]

The key question to ask “Do Palestinian Lives Matter?’  While the question is rhetorical, the answer is an emphatic “NO”.



[2] Personal quote by the author, December 2022.








[10] Quote by author December 2022.































Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.

Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 19 Dec 2022.

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