Shireen Abu Akleh. Remember her name. I’m waiting for Reporters Without Borders, the organization that monitors press freedom and abuses worldwide, to catch up with the news of her killing today (May 11, 2022).
Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist with more than 20 years experience reporting on Israel’s military actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, was shot and killed today in Jenin. She was clad in her official PRESS helmet and PRESS flak jacket. That wasn’t enough to protect her from a bullet to the head, just below her helmet. Her producer was shot in the back and is now hospitalized.
Shireen Abu Akleh was a professional, and knew the dangers that accompany journalists reporting in “hot spots”, “conflict zones”, and “battlefields.” The Occupied Palestinian Territories qualify as all three because of the incessant military incursions by the IDF. At least 46 Palestinian journalists have been killed since 2000, but I’m not aware of any independent investigation into any of these killings. Israel routinely exonerates itself after it completes an investigation of its soldiers.
Shireen Abu Akleh can’t just be another statistic.
May 11, 2022
President Joe Biden
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
I call on each of you to use the authority of your offices to demand an immediate investigation into the killing today of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist. She was shot in the head below the press helmet she was wearing. She was also clearly identified as a journalist with her Press vest. At the time of her murder, she was covering the Israeli military’s actions in Jenin in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Shireen Abu Akleh was a prominent journalist with over 20 years’ experience reporting on Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian territories; she certainly understood the dangers involved in her work. She would not have put herself or her team in harm’s way, which raises the grim prospect that she was targeted. Her producer was also targeted and shot in the back today. According to one report, Israel has killed 46 Palestinian journalists since 2000. https://tinyurl.com/35pv4htc
Journalists are protected under international humanitarian law against direct attacks, and violations of this rule constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) notes that journalists must be protected, but there is “a failure to implement existing rules and to systematically investigate, prosecute and punish violations.” The United States must demand accountability for Abu Akleh’s killing; and the first step is a neutral, transparent and thorough investigation by an impartial group that commands the respect of the international community.
The second step is to withhold military aid to the State of Israel until the conclusion of the investigation and the findings are made public. The Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that no assistance can be given to a country that regularly violates human rights. The Leahy law (22 U.S.C.A. § 2378d) prohibits the U.S. government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights. I urge you to invoke both laws and immediately suspend foreign aid to Israel. Such preemptive action would demonstrate to Americans and to the international community that the U.S. acts consistently when there is demonstrable evidence that gross violations of human rights have been perpetrated, whether in Sudan or in Israel.
I would appreciate a direct response from you concerning my request. Thank you.
Lora A. Lucero