The Fearless Pursuit of Justice for Shireen Abu Akleh | Sojourners

The Fearless Pursuit of Justice for Shireen Abu Akleh

The killing of a renowned Palestinian American journalist shines a light on Israeli military practices in the Occupied Territories.
A heavily filtered photo of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in chest armor with "PRESS" emblazoned across the front. She is surrounded with illustrations of Arabic text, plants, and a microphone with doves flying out from the mic.
Illustration by Rami Kanso

PALESTINIAN AMERICAN JOURNALIST Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed in May 2022 while covering an Israel Defense Forces raid on a refugee camp in the Palestinian West Bank village of Jenin. Abu Akleh had been standing with a group of other journalists and was wearing a blue vest with the word PRESS printed across it when she was shot; her producer was shot in the back but survived. Hours after Abu Akleh’s death, Israeli police went into her home, took away Palestinian flags, and prevented the singing of Palestinian nationalist songs.

In mid-November, the FBI opened an investigation into Abu Akleh’s death; Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel would refuse to cooperate since, Gantz said, the IDF had already investigated the IDF actions in the shooting. The U.S. State Department commented, “Not only was Shireen an American citizen, she was a fearless reporter whose journalism and pursuit of truth earned her the respect of audiences around the world.”

Before her death, households throughout the Arab world knew Abu Akleh’s work. Nicknamed “the daughter of Palestine” — and “the voice of Palestine” — Abu Akleh had worked for Qatar-based news outlet Al Jazeera for a quarter century. Viewed as courageous and thoughtful, Abu Akleh inspired many, including women interested in pursuing a career in journalism in the Middle East. A common signoff for her broadcasts summarized her motivation for being a journalist: “I chose journalism to be close to people. It might not be easy to change the reality, but at least I can bring their voices to the world. I am Shireen Abu Akleh.”

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