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After four months of prevarication, the Israeli army ended up acknowledging its ” likely responsibility in the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. This Palestinian-American, star reporter for Al Jazeera, was shot in the head in May 2022, in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. RFI went to the scene of the tragedy with Ali al-Samoudi, a colleague of the journalist, who was also injured.
Since the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a multitude of investigations carried out by international media, and by the UN as well, have incriminated Israel. Moreover, from the very first moments following his death, Palestinian journalists present on the spot confirmed Israel’s responsibility. But the Jewish state had engaged in a real communication battle to clear its army. ” I was the first on the scene that morning. I made inquiries to find out where the Israeli army was and where the clashes with the Palestinian groups were taking place. Over there were Israeli tanks, at the level of this yellow car in front of us “, reports Ali al-Samoudi.
RFI: The Israeli army tank was about 300-400 meters from here?
Ali al-Samudi: Rather 200 meters. Their sniper can of course see up to 3,000 meters. We were dressed as journalists: helmet and bulletproof vest, with the mention “PRESS” in English. We then put ourselves in the open for five minutes in front of the army, to give the soldiers time to identify us. Obviously, as Palestinian journalists, we do not work in coordination with the Israeli army. In the field, we communicate via signals. For five minutes, we remained in the open in front of the soldiers, waiting for their instructions. We live under occupation. We know that the life of a Palestinian has no value for the Israeli army. And so, we always comply with the instructions of the army.
How did you know that the Israeli army had correctly identified you?
We stayed in the open for a long time in front of the soldiers. We are talking about the Israeli army, a modern and over-equipped army. Since the soldiers didn’t ask us to leave the area, we went down the street where they were. At that time, the street was deserted. There were no clashes or Palestinian armed groups. And so, as we walked towards the soldiers, there was a first shot. I was at the head of the procession. I turned around and said to Shireen who was right behind me, ” The army shoots. We have to leave the area. » I didn’t have time to finish my sentence… I felt like an explosion in my back. I knew I had been shot.
Shireen then shouted, “ Ali is touched! »
The next ball was for her. She fell here, in this place. That’s where she died.
What is Israel’s interest in targeting journalists. And especially journalists who work for international media?
It wasn’t the Israeli sniper that shot us that killed Shireen. He’s his commander. The soldier does not take initiative. He carries out orders. The Israeli occupation army fired on us because they didn’t want any media coverage of their operation. We journalists expose the violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces. By shooting at us, they wanted to silence us when they were carrying out a major operation in Jenin.
You were also injured. Is it still painful for you?
This is the seventh or eighth time in my career that I have been hit by Israeli fire. I live in constant fear and stress. As the world watched, Israel killed Shireen, and I miraculously escaped death. I was shot…I was lucky. Because they aimed at my heart, and it was when I turned around that the bullet hit me in the back. The Israeli army films all its operations. Generally, they even publish excerpts. I challenge them to broadcast the images of this operation. But they won’t, because that will clearly prove their guilt.
Wasn’t that a blunder?
No. The proof, after having touched me, they continued shooting and ended up killing Shireen. Shireen was a colleague, a friend, a sister. We have worked together for 25 years. The day she died, I woke her up. I called her to tell her that an army operation was in progress. She had started her day by saying: Hello Ali. His last words were: ” Ali was hit. She shouted for help. She sacrificed herself for a just cause. She was killed in cold blood. She is the voice of Palestine that will not be silenced. We have a slogan today: Shireen is alive. Coverage continues. »
Thanks a lot.
Farewell Shireen Abu Akleh. Rest in peace.