Israeli Forces Murdered Star Al Jazeera Journalist: CNN
Al Jazeera journalist and US citizen Shireen Abu Akleh was “shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces,” according to a new CNN investigation. Mainstream U.S. media isn’t exactly known for casting a critical eye at Israel, which makes CNN’s report all the more explosive.
Abu Akleh, a star reporter in the region, was shot in the head by Israeli forces on May 11 in the West Bank town of Jenin. She and her al Jazeera crew were there to report on an Israeli raid on a refugee camp.
Ten journalists contributed to CNN’s painstaking forensic investigation, which drew on 11 videos, eight eyewitness accounts and consultations with weapons and forensic audio experts.
In an anonymous interview with CNN, a senior Israeli security official denied that Abu Akleh was deliberately killed: “In no way would the IDF ever target a civilian, especially a member of the press.”
While CNN didn’t note it, according to Reporters Without Borders, Israel has killed at least 30 journalists since 2000, including two Palestinians shot by IDF snipers while reporting on protests near the Gaza-Israel border in 2018.
— Celine Alkhaldi سيلين الخالدي (@celinealkhaldi) May 25, 2022
In the aftermath of Abu Akleh’s death, an Israeli military spokesman said she was “filming and working for a media outlet amidst armed Palestinians. They’re armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.”
Later on the day of the incident, Israeli Foreign Ministry tweeted a video of Palestinians wildly firing down alleys in Jenin, and wrote, “Palestinian terrorists, firing indiscriminately” were the likely killers of Abu Akleh.
However, CNN geolocated the images in the tweeted video to a spot 300 meters from Abu Akleh, and, based on various factors, firmly concluded “the shooting in the videos couldn’t be the same volley of gunfire that hit Abu Akleh and her producer.”
Indeed, CNN concluded “there was no active combat, nor any Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to her death.”
Weapons expert and British Army veteran Chris Cobb-Smith studied images of bullet impacts on the tree where Abu Akleh stood before she was killed. They form a relatively tight shot group.
“The number of strike marks on the tree where Shireen was standing proves this wasn’t a random shot, she was targeted,” Cobb told CNN.
CNN’s study of acoustic evidence is even more damning:
According to the Israeli army’s initial inquiry, at the time of Abu Akleh’s death, an Israeli sniper was 200 meters away from her. CNN asked Robert Maher, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Montana State University, who specializes in forensic audio analysis, to assess the footage of Abu Akleh’s shooting and estimate the distance between the gunman and the cameraman, taking into account the rifle being used by the Israeli forces.
The video that Maher analyzed captures two volleys of gunfire; eyewitnesses say Abu Akleh was hit in the second barrage, a series of seven sharp “cracks.” The first “crack” sound, the ballistic shockwave of the bullet, is followed approximately 309 milliseconds later by the relatively quiet “bang” of the muzzle blast, according to Maher. “That would correspond to a distance of something between 177 and 197 meters,” or 580 and 646 feet, he said in an email to CNN, which corresponds almost exactly with the Israeli sniper’s position.
Video shows a relaxed scene moments before gunfire erupted. Jenin residents smile, make small talk and smoke cigarettes as they watch the al Jazeera crew led by Abu Akleh.
Like others on her crew, Abu Akleh, a 51-year old Palestinian-American Christian who’s beloved in Jenin for her work dating back to the 2002 Intifada uprising against Israeli occupation, was wearing a blue helmet and blue protective vest, each marked “Press.”
“There was no conflict or confrontations at all. We were about 10 guys, give or take, walking around, laughing and joking with the journalists,” said Salim Awad, who shot a 16-minute video that helped capture the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death. “We were not afraid of anything. We didn’t expect anything would happen, because when we saw journalists around, we thought it’d be a safe area.”
The al Jazeera crew thought they were exercising due caution.
“We stood in front of the Israeli military vehicles for about five to ten minutes before we made moves to ensure they saw us,” reporter Shatha Hanaysha told CNN. “And this is a habit of ours as journalists, we move as a group and we stand in front of them so they know we are journalists, and then we start moving.”
After fire erupted, killing Abu Akleh and wounding Al-Quds newspaper journalist Ali Samodi, gunfire continued to rain down on those who tried to render aid.
Israel’s violence toward Abu Akleh didn’t stop with her death. Reportedly triggered by a Palestinian flag draping her coffin, Israeli police “surg[ed] toward her funeral procession before grabbing and roughing up some of the mourners, including those carrying the coffin,” reported CBS News. In the mayhem, pallbearers dropped the casket.
Fifty-seven House Democrats signed a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Chris Wray requesting a U.S. investigation of the incident, writing, “As an American, Ms. Abu Akleh was entitled to the full protections afforded to U.S. citizens living abroad.”
Thu, 05/26/2022 – 10:40