Ramallah (VG) Journalist Shatha saw her idol being shot next to her. She told VG that it was Israeli soldiers who fired.
The assassination of respected Al Jazeera journalist Sherine Abu Akle on Wednesday came as a shock to the entire Arab world.
Eyewitnesses, the Palestinian Authority and human rights organizations concluded early on that it was Israeli soldiers who killed the famous 51-year-old journalist.
The Israeli authorities rejected this and believe that those behind it may be armed Palestinian men.
So VG spoke to two journalists who were present, just a few meters away when the Al Jazeera journalist was killed, to try to understand what really happened.
– I can’t explain how I feel.
Palestinian journalist Shatha Hunaisha was just one meter away when Shireen was shot and killed on Wednesday. They had traveled to the city of Jenin to report on an Israeli operation carried out by soldiers, a city located in the north of the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli authorities now have almost complete control over them West Bank which they occupied since 1967 in violation of international law.
– We went there, where we saw that they were Israeli military vehicles. Then there were no fights or confrontations, so we thought it was completely safe. There were cars running on the street behind us, she says in an interview with VG.
She meets VG in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, dressed in black.
– We stopped there for five to ten minutes so they could see us, so the Israeli soldiers could see that we were journalists. I thought that if they didn’t want us to come close, they would shoot in the air to warn us.
– But they let us go down the street towards them. Then the shooting started.
The two women were wearing blue flak jackets that had “PRESS” written in large letters across their chests. Sharon was shot in the ear and fell to the ground. Shatha hid behind a tree while the shots lasted for several minutes.
– Every time I reached out my hand to save her, new shots hit me.
– Do you know who shot you?
– I am 100% sure that it was the Israeli army that shot us, and no one else. There were only Israeli patrol cars, no other platoons or armed men.
Several places in the Middle East, including Lebanon and Jordan, witnessed demonstrations and celebrations in honor of Shireen.
She was seen as one of the most important voices of ordinary people across the Middle East, and was looked upon by many.
For over twenty years, she has been present at some of the most important events in the Middle East. But it was her reporting on the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation that made her more respected among many Arabs.
When I was young I wanted to be a journalist like Shareen, she was my idol. I didn’t think I’d be there when she was killed, Shatha told VG.
– You will not go unpunished
On Thursday morning, the city of Ramallah witnessed a solemn funeral in honor of Sherine. Journalists, colleagues, friends and hundreds of others attended to honor the murdered journalist. Several screams while carrying the coffin.
Then Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas climbed to the podium.
“The Israeli occupation forces must bear full and complete responsibility for this killing,” he said.
This crime will not go unpunished. We say here that we do not want to conduct a joint investigation with the Israelis, because Israel carried out this criminal act. This is why we do not trust them. We will immediately go to the International Criminal Court.
Norway’s Foreign Minister, Anneken Hoetfeldt, also called for an independent investigation. Norwegian journalists’ team leader Dag Trigstad also owns it. Meanwhile, he said this was a “despicable assault on freedom of expression and democracy,” a press release issued by them stated.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was quoted as saying in The Times of Israel:
“According to the information we have gathered, it seems likely that armed Palestinians – who opened fire at the time – were responsible for the tragic killing of a journalist,” he said.
Israeli Defense Spokesman, Amnon Scheffler, said that they carried out an anti-terror operation in Jenin, where they were met with heavily armed resistance, in which Shirin was subsequently killed.
– The Israeli army will thoroughly investigate this incident. A statement said that Israel would never deliberately attack non-combatants and we are committed to freedom of the press.
Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in a statement that Sherine’s killing was a bloody reminder of the deadly regime affecting Palestinians.
“Israel is steadily and steadily killing Palestinians, with impunity. The international community must act to stop Israel’s apartheid regime” She is on Twitter.
150 meters away
– The first bullet that hit me came from where the Israeli patrols were.
Ali Al-Samoudi works as a producer for Al-Jazeera and was at work in Jenin with his colleague Sherine.
He was shot himself, and was interviewed from a hospital bed on Wednesday. In a new interview with VG, he tells us more about the source of the shooting, and who he thinks is behind it.
– I saw at least three patrol cars on the road below. Ali says they were about 150 meters away from us.
He, Shirin and the other journalists were on their way to where the occupation soldiers had stopped. He explained that they put cameras and tripods in the way so that the soldiers could see who they were.
After five to ten minutes, they chose to walk down the street to where the occupying soldiers were.
– Sherine and I went with the cameras in front of us to clearly define ourselves as journalists. He says over the phone, we were six reporters.
– The Israeli soldiers opposed us because we knew that they would not shoot at us. But we were wrong.
Suddenly the shots came and Ali was hit. He was taken to the hospital, and a little later his colleague Shireen arrived. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
– How to make sure that the occupation soldiers are the ones who fired?
There were no other armed men besides them. There was no further shooting, people throwing stones or something. It was completely calm.
He says the Israeli patrol cars have small holes along the side of the vehicle where the barrel can protrude. The cars are also equipped with cameras, so that the soldiers inside have a complete overview of what is happening around them, says the experienced manufacturer.
– I think they saw that there were journalists and they were asked to shoot, he claimed.
– What do you think of the Israeli soldiers saying that they were not the ones who fired?
– They are liars. They shot me and they shot Shireen. I have already been injured seven times by the Israeli occupation soldiers. Once I was hit by a grenade from a tank. Then the Israelis claimed that the Palestinians were behind it. But Palestine does not have tanks.
– Every time I was injured by Israeli soldiers they say that the Palestinians are behind it.
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