34 rights groups are demanding an immediate and independent investigation into the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in an attack in the West Bank on May 11 that also injured another journalist.
“We demand that the government of Israel and all other states assume their responsibility to ensure that crimes against journalists are fully investigated and prosecuted,” the signatories said in a statement. Among them are the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Press Institute, the World Association of Newspaper Editors and PEN International.
“Testimonials, video documentation and media reports that these journalists may have been deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers have made this case all the more alarming. An analysis conducted by independent investigative teams with Bellingcat concluded that the shots came from Israeli soldiers and that the shots appeared to have been “both targeted and deliberate”. “
“The assassination of Abu Akleh, one of the most respected Palestinian journalists who had reported from the West Bank for decades, shocked many in the region and around the world. According to Al Jazeera, Abu Akleh and three other journalists came under fire from Israeli soldiers while covering an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin. The journalists wore vests and helmets, clearly marked “press”. Abu Akleh was shot in the face and Al Jazeera producer Ali Al-Samoudi was shot in the back. Al-Samoudi was treated for gunshot wounds and released from hospital.
“We draw attention to this latest case as part of a larger pattern of violence against journalists and media workers in Palestine. At least 23 journalists in Palestine have been killed since 2002, according to UNESCO data, and hundreds have been injured or targeted in the violence.
“The obligation to investigate crimes against journalists does not disappear in a conflict zone. On the contrary, authorities are legally bound under international law and international humanitarian law to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers in conflict situations. Moreover, a deliberate attack on a journalist during a situation of armed conflict constitutes a war crime.
“The murder of Shireen Abu Akleh represents a particularly egregious attack on the press, not least in light of credible reports that Abu Akleh and other journalists were intentionally targeted by Israeli forces, but also in light of growing concerns about the impunity for crimes against journalists and other serious human rights violations committed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Israeli government’s recent announcement that it will not investigate this murder only adds to these concerns.