Calls have grown for an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead as she covered an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank, putting the spotlight on Israeli attacks on Palestinian journalists.
The Qatar-based TV channel said in a statement on Wednesday that Abu Akleh, 51, was “assassinated in cold blood” by “the Israeli occupation forces”.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, producer Ali al-Samudi, was wounded in the incident in which both wore helmets and vests marked “Press”. He later said no Palestinian fighters were nearby, stressing that otherwise “we would not have gone into the area”.
Majid Awais, a witness, told AFP that Abu Akleh “turned in panic” when she saw her colleague al-Samudi was shot, and that she was struck by the fatal bullet moments later.
Her death came nearly a year after an Israeli air strike destroyed a Gaza building that housed the offices of Al Jazeera and news agency AP.
The Palestinian Authority said it held Israel “responsible” for the killing of Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, who was hit by a bullet in the head during an Israeli operation in the Jenin refugee camp.
The Hamas movement, which governs the Gaza Strip, condemned the killing “in the strongest terms,” calling it an “assassination”.
The European Union urged an “independent” investigation into her death, as the office of the UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said it was “appalled”, and also called for “an independent, transparent investigation”.
Meanwhile, the United States envoy to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called for the killing to be “transparently investigated”.
‘Thorough and independent’
Commenting on the developments, former Al Jazeera English journalist Ayman Mohideen, who worked closely with Abu Akleh while reporting from Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, said the US government should push for an independent investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, who was also a US citizen.