Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh shot, killed in West Bank

Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin, in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday morning.

What to watch: Tom Nides, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, confirmed Shireen Abu Akleh was a Palestinian American citizen and called for “a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death,” as Palestinian and Israeli officials gave conflicting accounts of what happened to the veteran reporter.

  • The Palestinian Ministry of Health said she was killed by Israeli gunfire, as did Al Jazeera.
  • Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that, according to Israeli information, “it appears likely that armed Palestinians — who were indiscriminately firing at the time — were responsible.”

Driving the news: Israeli military forces entered Jenin in an operation to arrest Palestinians suspected of planning attacks against Israelis, the Israeli military said.

  • According to the Israeli military, during the incursion Palestinian militants fired at the Israeli forces and used explosive devices.
  • Palestinian officials said 51-year-old Abu Akleh and another Palestinian journalist, Ali Samudi, who works for al-Quds newspaper, were caught in the crossfire and shot by Israeli soldiers.
  • They were both wearing bullet proof vests with the word “Press” on them.
  • Bennett said no Israeli soldier was injured during the clashes

The big picture: Abu Akleh had worked for Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel since 1997 covering the West Bank.

  • She was a highly respected journalist who was well known journalist in the Arab world and beyond.
  • Al Jazeera said in a statement that the Israeli military “assassinated Abu Akleh in cold blood,” and called on the international community to condemn her killing and hold Israel accountable.
  • “We commit to take legal action against those responsible and bring them to justice,” the news outlet said.

What they’re saying: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined the Islamist Raam party, an Arab-Israeli offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, in condemning the killing of Abu Akleh. He said Israel was responsible “for a crime against a Palestinian journalist who was trying to tell the truth.”

  • The Raam party called for the opening of an international investigation into her death, as did Hamas which labeled the killing “another Israeli crime.”
  • Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian minister for civilian affairs, said: ” “The truth is murdered by the bullets of the occupation. A sad day in Palestine.”

Meanwhile, Bennett said Israel’s government had called on Palestinian officials to conduct a joint pathological analysis and investigation into Abu Akleh’s death, but they had so far refused this offer.

  • Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement also calling for a joint investigation, “Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth.”
  • Israeli military spokesperson Gen. Ran Kokhav told army radio that Palestinian officials had taken Abu Akleh’s body and refused to hold a joint pathological investigation into her death.
  • Israeli military officials said at a briefing with reporters earlier that Abu Akleh’s death is “a very tragic incident” and claimed she was likely killed by “indiscriminate [gun]fire by Palestinian militants.”
  • “We will look into this incident seriously,” an Israeli military official said.

Worth noting: The reports of her death came shortly before a planned news conference by Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Raam party, who was expected to announce that his party would rejoin the coalition.

  • Shortly before the news conference was about to take place, Abbas announced it was cancelled.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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