Abu Akleh’s killing in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was shocking, but hardly unusual. According to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, she was the 86th journalist to be killed while covering Israeli oppression since Israel first occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1967.
But her killing is part of a longer pattern of Israeli violence and collective punishment – not just against journalists but against all Palestinians – committed with impunity and rationalized by trumped up ‘security’ concerns.
The depth of this abuse was again made shockingly visible after the killing itself, when Israeli police attacked the funeral procession carrying Shireen’s body to the church. They threw Palestinian flags to the ground and violently beat mourners – including the pallbearers, who nearly dropped the casket.
The killing of Shireen and the assault on the funeral procession demonstrated once again the structural nature of Israeli racism and violence against Palestinians. As Amnesty International describes it, Israel’s “regular violations of Palestinians’ rights are not accidental repetitions of offenses, but part of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination.”
There’s no serious question that Abu Akleh was deliberately killed by an Israeli sniper. She was wearing a helmet and a blue protective vest marked ‘PRESS’ and surrounded by other journalists when the group was fired on. She was shot in the head and killed. Another Palestinian journalist was shot and seriously injured.
As so often happens, Israeli officials immediately tried to blame the Palestinians. Israeli officials from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on down made unconvincing claims that Palestinian gunmen were responsible for the killing. Within hours, fieldworkers for the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem easily refuted the Israeli claims.
By the time Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz on May 17, Tel Aviv had largely pulled back from its claims of Palestinian culpability. The Israeli press claimed that Gantz had indicated Israel welcomed an investigation of Shireen’s killing.
But that claim (unmentioned in the Pentagon’s read-out of the meeting) flew in the face of reports that Israel had already decided it would not investigate, because questioning Israeli soldiers as potential suspects “would provoke opposition and controversy within the IDF and in Israeli society in general.”
Such a pattern of denial is but one aspect of a broader pattern of oppression that is much more pervasive.
Israel itself makes no secret of this. The country’s own Basic Law of 2018 explicitly gives only Jewish citizens of Israel, not Palestinian citizens, the right of self-determination.
Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, along with B’tselem, have concluded that this pattern constitutes the crime of apartheid. This international crime, and its associated human rights violations and war crimes, has continued for decades while political, diplomatic, economic, and military support from the United States goes forward unconditionally.
Excerpted: ‘Americans Must Demand an Independent Investigation of Shireen Abu Akleh’s Killing’.Phyllis Bennis And Richard Falk, "War crimes," The News. 2022-05-27.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Military support , Israeli soldiers , diplomatic , Crimes , Violence , Abu Akleh , Lloyd Austin , Palestine