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On Wednesday morning, May 11, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out an anti-terrorist raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, from which attacks against Jews were organized.
As the Israeli Army clashed with Palestinian terrorists, who responded to the raid with heavy fire, veteran Al Jazeera journalist, Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed.
The first accusation came from the Palestinian Authority. Health Minister Mai al-Kaila, who was in control of Abu Akleh’s body, said that it was the Israel Defense Forces who killed her.
In a video of the scene, just after she was killed, the journalist is seen with her face covered in blood, wearing the bulletproof vest that says Press, as she was being carried by several Palestinians.
The Health Minister’s accusations were joined by Palestinian witnesses and an EFE journalist, who claimed that the Israel Defense Forces killed Shireen Abu Akleh “in cold blood.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also reacted, calling the journalist’s murder “a horrible crime” and “an execution.” Abbas was followed by the rest of the Arab world, including terrorism.
The Hamas criminal terrorist organization predictably pointed the finger at Israel. It said the IDF “deliberately murdered her.”
The Qatari regime, which is a major funder of the Al Jazeera network, accused Israel of “terrorism.” “Unconditional support for Israel must end,” Qatari Deputy Foreign Minister Lolwah Alkhater said on Twitter.
The Arab world, almost in full force, as usual, came out to accuse Israel of assassinating the journalist. The media, subscribing to the Arab story, did the same. With no more information than that offered by the Minister of Health and the Palestinian Authority. That was enough to point the finger out and making the accusation.
The State of Israel regretted the “tragedy” of the murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. One of the first officials to react was Foreign Minister Yair Lapid: “Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth.”
Lapid extended a proposal to the Palestinian Authority: “We offered the Palestinians a joint investigation into the sad death of the journalist.”
The Israel Defense Forces reacted in the same way, after the journalist’s murder became known, they published a statement on its Twitter account: “The IDF is investigating the event and studying the possibility that the journalist was hit by Palestinian gunmen.”
“In the last few hours, IDF and Israeli security forces conducted counterterrorism activity to apprehend terrorist suspects in the Jenin Refugee Camp. During the activity, tens of Palestinian gunmen fired at and hurled explosive devices toward the soldiers. The soldiers responded with fire toward the gunmen and hits were identified,” they detailed.
For his part, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Kalman Liebskind accused the Palestinian Authority of “withholding information.”
“I don’t think we killed her. We offered them an investigation. As we see at the moment, the journalist was probably killed by Palestinian fire. They are hiding details and there is probably a reason for that,” the spokesman said.
And, then, another spokesman added that, although they are confident she was not killed by them, “we doubt if we will ever know because the Palestinians have her body and refuse a joint investigation.”
Finally, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett posted on his Twitter account: “The president of the Palestinian Authority launches accusations against Israel without solid basis. According to the information we have so far, it is very likely that armed Palestinians, who shot in the open, were the ones who caused the journalist’s unfortunate death.”
Bennett insists that Israel has proposed to the Palestinians to join forces to investigate, to collect all available documentation “to get to the truth.” Unfortunately, he adds, “the Palestinians refuse.”
Then, he is categorical: regardless of what the Arabs, the international press or Israel’s natural enemies say, “we will continue to act against terrorism.”
What information is available so far?
Israel’s raid in the city of Jenin follows a wave of terrorism that the Jewish state has been suffering since the beginning of Ramadan in April of this year. There have been, in recent weeks, several expressions of terrorism, agitated from Gaza and some Palestinian cities in the West Bank. This prompted the IDF to enter some Palestinian-controlled cities and execute counter-terrorism operations.
Tensions have risen dramatically, the likes of which have not been seen since just over a year ago – when thousands of missiles fired from Gaza rained down on Israeli cities. Undoubtedly, because of the tense moment, the death of a Palestinian journalist is very convenient for stirring up the sides.
On the other hand, there is a video that provides enough information to mistrust the Palestinian accusations. It is a record from the Arab side of the clash between Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists and the Israel Defense Forces. At the end of the video, one of the Palestinians shouts, “We hit a soldier, he is lying on the ground.” However, no IDF soldier was wounded or killed. So who was really hit?
A few hours after the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, it is too early to make accusations. It is irresponsible to claim that the Israeli Forces killed the Palestinian journalist while the only official information on the matter comes from the Palestinian Authority’s own Minister of Health.
So far, the only objective facts are: i) the Al Jazeera journalist was killed in the middle of the clash in Jenin; ii) the body is in the hands of the Palestinians and the one accuser was the Palestinian Minister of Health; iii) the Israel Defense Forces offered a joint investigation to get to the truth, but the Palestinians refuse; iv) Palestinians were recorded in a video shouting that they shot an alleged Israeli soldier, but no IDF soldier was wounded or killed.
Based on the above, it is hasty to draw conclusions. Indeed, information suggests that the responsibility may lie with the Palestinian side, which refuses to work with Israel to investigate the facts. As long as there is no investigation, anyone who is claiming that one side or the other killed Abu Akleh is manipulating or projecting bias.
Orlando Avendaño is the co-editor-in-chief of El American. He is a Venezuelan journalist and has studies in the History of Venezuela. He is the author of the book Days of submission // Orlando Avendaño es el co-editor en Jefe de El American. Es periodista venezolano y cuenta con estudios en Historia de Venezuela. Es autor del libro Días de sumisión.