On Wednesday, Shireen Abu Aqleh, an Al Jazeera correspondent, was shot dead in West Bank while reporting on an Israelian raid. Abu Aqleh was a highly respected journalist across the Middle East, reporting on some of the most contested stories and now many are taking to social media to mourn her death.
Farewell of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh who was murdered yesterday by lsraeli forces in Jenin.
We will never forget. pic.twitter.com/6y8IGAV6zr
— Muhammad Smiry (@MuhammadSmiry) May 12, 2022
The 51-year-old reporter was reportedly shot in the back of the head by Israelian gunfire on Wednesday according to witnesses — one of them being her own producer who was shot in the back.
Since the shooting, Israel had initially contested this claim suggesting Palestine gunmen may be responsible for her tragic death. The following day, the country’s military chief accepted that it could’ve been an Israeli soldier who shot Abu Aqleh.
Later Wednesday, her image was projected over the main square in the West Bank city of Ramallah and her body draped in a Palestinian flag garnished with flowers, was carried through the streets of Ramallah. Hundreds of mourners and onlookers chanted “With our spirit, our blood, we will redeem you, Shireen.”
Israel had bolstered security ahead of Abu Aqleh’s funeral and Palestine noted they would launch a full investigation into the murder. Despite calls from both the US and Israel, Palestine authorities have refused to cooperate with Israel in investigating her death.
Who was Shireen Abu Aqleh?
Abu Aqleh was highly influential in the region of Palestine and throughout the Middle East and was considered one of the most talented reporters in her area.
Abu Aqleh made her debut in 1997 joining Al Jazeera, just a year after the news station’s launch. Since then, she has faced intense scrutiny for her in-depth reporting on the Palestine-Israelian conflicts.
Both a Palestinian and US citizen, Abu Aqleh devoted her work to reporting from every side of the Palestine-Israel conflicts in West Bank and East Jerusalem over a three-decade period. Her content involved talking to both Palestinians and Israelians from home, battlegrounds and leaders’ boardrooms.
Most famously she reported on the second intifada, the Israeli siege of Jenin in 2002, the death of Yasser Arafat, a plethora of West Bank raids and the continued and wavering attempts of peace between the two nations. She also covered hardening topics such as forced home evictions, the killing of Palestinian youths and Palestinians jailed without charge.
Her death stands as a symbol of the continued conflicts between Israel and Palestine as well the price Palestinians continue to have to bear.
In a video released last year by Al Jazeera, Abu Aqleh mentioned her feelings that death was around the corner and despite this, her work was her devotion.
“Despite the dangers, we were determined to do the job,” Abu Aqleh said. “I chose journalism so I could be close to the people. It might not be easy to change the reality, but at least I was able to communicate their voice to the world.”
Israeli forces beat mourners at Abu Aqleh’s funeral procession
Abu Aqleh’s body was brought back from Jenin to Jerusalem after processions were carried out in Nablus and Ramallah so mourners could pay their respects.
On Friday, thousands of mourners gathered for the funeral service before Abu Aqleh was buried in Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery alongside her late parents.
Never in my life did I think I would see a scene like this…
Thousands of Palestinians at Jaffa Gate (باب الخليل), waving Palestinian flags, marching in procession to bid farewell to Shireen Abu Aqleh, a daughter of the people.
— Dr. Yara Hawari د. يارا هواري (@yarahawari) May 13, 2022
Yet prior to the funeral, Israeli forces gathered on the streets and reportedly beat crowds of mourners carrying Abu Aqleh’s coffin from a Jerusalem hospital to Old City in occupied East Jerusalem where the funeral was supposed to take place.
In the video, Abu Aqleh’s coffin almost falls to the ground as police grab Palestinian flags from the crowd.
Many drew comparisons to similar instances where a journalist/activist’s coffin was attacked during their funeral procession — such as South African activist Ashley Kreil’s funeral in the late 1980s’ — noting the similarities of rising tension between “rival” forces and how this often transcends into brawls at sensitive and inappropriate times.
In 1987, mourners at South African activist Ashley Kriel’s funeral were attacked by Apartheid police.
Today, the same scene repeats itself with Israeli forces attacking mourners at Shireen Abu Aqleh’s funeral.
Apartheid will fall in Palestine as it fell in South Africa. pic.twitter.com/CSuBPBIeSr
— Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) (@MABOnline1) May 13, 2022
Many are grieving her death
Considered somewhat of a hero in the Middle East, upon hearing of Abu Aqleh’s devastating fate, many expressed their grief via news networks and social media.
Prior to her death, Abu Aqleh and her longtime producer, Wessam Hammad, had faced their fair share of dangerous raids, oftentimes getting caught in the crossfire. Hammad paid homage to Abu Aqleh’s incredible ability to stay calm during even the most stressful of times.
“Shireen worked all these years with a commitment to the values and ethics of our profession,” he said.
Governments around the world also spoke on the tragedy, the U.S. State Department calling her death “an affront to media freedom,” while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated he was “appalled by the killing.”
Israeli forces kill one of the most remarkable Palestinian journalist, Shireen Abu Aqleh while she was wearing a press west and journalist are under the international law of war!
How can they make such a crime??#شيرين_ابو_عاقلة #Shereen_Abu_Aqleh pic.twitter.com/f0Tqclod0k
— Ava darinova (@traqna87) May 11, 2022
Later on, Hammad spoke on the profound impact and everlasting impact Abu Aqleh had on the country.
“Generations grew up seeing her work,” Hammad said. “People listened to Shireen’s voice and were influenced by her to study journalism so they could be like her.”
A heart-wrenching tragedy, the death of Abu Aqleh serves as a reminder of the continued conflicts between Palestine and Israeli and can be expected to further propagate tensions between the two countries in the following weeks.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: A sign in front of Shireen Abu Aqleh’s house in the occupied city of Jerusalem on May 13, 2022. Source: Osps7, Wikimedia.