Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Abkleh’s death is shocking and her killers must be held accountable. The Al Jazeera reporter was shot while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the West Bank, when she was wearing a PRESS vest that clearly identified her as a journalist on duty. The information that has emerged so far indicates that she was deliberately targetted in an extrajudicial killing. In a statement, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) cited Al Jazeera reporters and the Palestinian Health Ministry saying that Abu Abkleh was in a critical condition when she was transported to hospital and that she died shortly afterwards. Her colleague, Al Jazeera producer, Ali Samoudi, was shot in the back but is reportedly stable.
Abu Abkleh’s horrific killing is not the first of its kind. According to the IFJ, at least 46 journalists have been killed by Israel since 2000 and no one has been held to account. In November 2021, the Federation filed legal submissions to the International Criminal Court (ICC) claiming that “there are strong grounds to conclude that Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers amount to war crimes.”
The complaint detailed the systematic targetting of Palestinian journalists, naming four who were killed or maimed by Israeli snipers when they were wearing PRESS vests while covering demonstrations in Gaza. It also included the targeting of media and bombing of the the Al-Shorouk and Al-Jawhara Towers in Gaza City in May 2021 including the cases of Alam News, Al Hayat Newspapers, Mayadeen Media, Al Bawaba 24 and others. The IFJ will now seek to add the killing of Shireen Abu Abkleh to the ICC complaint.
Jennifer Robinson and Tatyana Eatwell of Doughty Street Chambers, instructed by the solicitors’ firm, Bindmans, and by the IFJ, worked with the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) to prepare the complaint to the ICC. In June last year, Ms Robinson addressed the Human Rights Council on behalf of the IFJ to call for the protection of Palestinian journalists and for accountability for the targetting of journalists.