Al Jazeera takes the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh to the ICC

The Hague the Netherlands – Al Jazeera Media Network has made a formal request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the murder of veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Abu Akleh, a television correspondent for Al Jazeera for 25 years, was killed by Israeli forces on May 11 as she reported on an Israeli military attack on a Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank.

The 51-year-old Jerusalem resident and US citizen was a household name and widely respected journalist who gave Palestinians a voice through her coverage of the Israeli occupation.

‘A broader pattern’

The request includes a file on an extensive six-month investigation by Al Jazeera that is compiling all available eyewitness evidence and video footage, as well as new material on the Abu Akleh assassination.

The request submitted to the ICC is being made “in the context of a wider attack on Al Jazeera and journalists in Palestine,” said Rodney Dixon KC, an Al Jazeera attorney, citing incidents such as the bombing of the ICC’s office. network in Gaza on May 15, 2021.

“It is not a single incident, it is a murder that is part of a wider pattern that the prosecution should investigate to identify those responsible for the murder and bring charges against them,” he said.

“The focus is on Shireen, and this particular murder, this outrageous murder. But the evidence we submit looks at all actions against Al Jazeera, because as an international media organization it is targeted.

“And the evidence shows that what the [Israeli] authorities are trying to do is to shut up,” Dixon told Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera hopes the ICC prosecutor “really launches the investigation into this case” following the network’s request, Dixon said. The network’s request is in addition to the complaint that Abu Akleh’s family filed with the ICC in September, supported by the Palestinian Press Syndicate and the International Federation of Journalists.

A new documentary from Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines shows how Abu Akleh and other journalists, wearing protective helmets and body armor clearly marked with the word “PRESS”, were walking down a road in plain sight of Israeli troops when they came under fire.

Abu Akleh was shot in the head as she tried to protect herself with a carob tree. Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Samoudi was also shot in the shoulder.

The new evidence submitted by Al Jazeera shows that “Shireen and her colleagues were directly fired upon by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF),” Al Jazeera Media Network said in a statement. pronunciation on Tuesday.

The statement adds that the evidence refutes Israeli authorities’ claims that Shireen was killed in crossfire and that it “confirms beyond any doubt that no firing was fired in the area where Shireen was, except that the IOF fired directly at her.”

“The evidence shows that this deliberate killing was part of a wider campaign to target and silence Al Jazeera,” the statement said.

Next steps

Lina Abu Akleh, who has campaigned for justice for her aunt through media work and meetings with lawmakers in the US, where her aunt was a citizen, hopes Al Jazeera’s request will prompt the ICC to launch an independent investigation.

Walid al-Omari, the chief of the Al Jazeera bureau in Jerusalem and a friend and colleague of Abu Akleh, said it is crucial to keep the matter alive in the public eye. “We do not believe that Israel should escape its responsibility.”

Once the ICC has reviewed the evidence, it will decide whether to investigate Abu Akleh’s murder as part of ongoing investigations.

In 2021, the ICC decided that it has jurisdiction over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Al Jazeera’s submission calls for the murder of Abu Akleh to become part of this wider investigation.

“We are requesting an investigation leading to charges and prosecution of those responsible,” Dixon said.

Studies conducted by the United NationsPalestinian and Israeli human rights organizations and international news outlets concluded that Abu Akleh had been killed by an Israeli soldier.

The Abu Akleh family has called for a “thorough, transparent investigation” by the US FBI and State Department to reveal the chain of command that led to the death of a US citizen.

“In short, we would like to [US President] Biden to do in Shireen’s case what his and previous US administrations failed to do when other US citizens were killed by Israel: hold the killers accountable,” Lina Abu Akleh wrote in Al Jazeera in July.

In November, the US announced an FBI investigation into Abu Akleh’s murder, news welcomed by her family.

But, Dixon warned, this investigation should not be a reason for the ICC not to act.

“They can work with the FBI so that this case does not fall through the cracks and those responsible are identified and brought to justice.”

Unmask changing stories

The Fault Lines documentary also takes a close look at Israel’s changing narratives.

Israel initially falsely blamed armed Palestinians for Abu Akleh’s death, but said in September that there was a “high probability” that an Israeli soldier had “accidentally hit” the journalist, but that it would not launch a criminal investigation.

Hagai El-Ad, director of the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, who quickly debunked Israel’s false claim that a Palestinian gunman was responsible for Abu Akleh’s death told Fault Lines: “They are also very used to getting away with lying about killings of Palestinians, both in the public arena and the legal arena. “

“The reason why Al Jazeera made this request is because the Israeli authorities have done nothing to investigate the matter. They have even said that they will not investigate, that there is no suspicion of a crime,” Dixon said.

Al Jazeera Media Network calls the murder a “blatant murder” and a “heinous crime”.

“Al Jazeera reiterates its commitment to achieving justice for Shireen and exploring all avenues to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable and brought to justice,” the network said.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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