US condemns killing of American journalist during Israeli military raid in Palestinian city

Journalists and medics wheel the body of Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera network, into the morgue inside the Hospital in the West Bank town of Jenin, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The well-known Palestinian reporter for the broadcaster’s Arabic language channel was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The U.S. government on Wednesday condemned the killing of an American journalist during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank and called for an “immediate and thorough” investigation to determine who is accountable. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the death of Shireen Abu Akleh represented “an affront to media freedom everywhere.”

White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre echoed Price’s comments, telling reporters aboard Air Force One that the administration “strongly” condemns the killing of the journalist. Jean-Pierre did not say whether President Biden planned to call Abu Akleh’s family.   

Abu Akleh was shot and killed while covering an Israeli military raid in Jenin, a city administered by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Israel has launched an investigation into Abu Akleh’s death and called for participation of the Palestinian Authority, which has refused. The Palestinian health ministry blamed the Israeli military for the journalist’s death.

Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said that the army could not yet determine whether Abu Akleh was hit by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire, The Associated Press reported, walking back an earlier statement from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that the journalist’s death likely came from gunfire from armed Palestinians. 

The Israeli Defense Forces said it was conducting counter terrorism operations in the West Bank city when “tens of Palestinian gunmen fired at and hurled explosive devices toward the soldiers” and soldiers responded with gunfire. There were no injuries among Israeli forces, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Abu Akleh, 51, was a veteran Middle East journalist who reported for Al Jazeera’s Arabic language channel. She was reportedly shot in the head.

Al Jazeera reported that another one of their journalists, Ali al-Samoudi, was wounded by a bullet in the back at the scene and is in stable condition.

Al-Samoudi told Al Jazeera that there were no Palestinian fighters present when the journalists were shot. 

“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” al-Samoudi told the Qatari-based news outlet. 

“The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen … there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene.”

Abu Akleh’s death comes amid an escalation in Israeli counterterrorism operations in response to a series of attacks made by Palestinians, with at least 18 Israelis and 30 Palestinians killed in recent weeks.

Tags Al-Jazeera Biden Israel Karine Jean-Pierre Naftali Bennett Ned Price Shireen Abu Akleh West Bank

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