More than a hundred artists, including Hollywood stars, acclaimed authors and prominent musicians, have condemned Israel’s killing of esteemed Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Actors Susan Sarandon, Tilda Swinton, Mark Ruffalo, Kathryn Hahn and Steve Coogan are among the signatories to an open letter calling for “full accountability for the perpetrators of this crime and everyone involved in authorizing it”. Abu Akleh, well-known across the Arab world for her reporting on Israel’s occupation and apartheid system, was shot dead last week while wearing a press vest. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has refuted attempts by Israeli leaders to deflect responsibility.
“These accounts were following the exact same people that were tweeting about Palestine, but from France or Francophone accounts that work on Palestine,” Razek said of her new followers. The advocacy director of Rābet, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy’s digital platform, became wary of the issue after Abier Khateb, a grants manager at Open Society Foundations, reported mass followings as well. Razek told MintPress News that she began individually reporting each account as fake but kept her own account open — lest she let the alleged bots win. But after a few days, Razek made her profile private. At the peak of the mass following, Razek had accumulated 400 fake followers.
Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera reporter with more than two decades of experience covering armed conflicts, knew the protocol. She and other reporters remained last Wednesday in the open, clearly visible to Israeli snipers about 650 feet away in a building. Her flak jacket and helmet were emblazoned with the word “PRESS.” There were three shots fired in her direction. The second bullet hit the Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Samoudi in the back. The third shot, al-Samoudi remembered, hit Abu Akleh in the face below the rim of her helmet. There were a few seconds when the Israeli sniper saw profiled in his scope Abu Akleh, one of the most recognizable faces in the Middle East. The 5.56 mm bullet from the M-16, designed to spin end over end upon impact, would have obliterated most of Abu Akleh’s head.
Jerusalem, Israel – As I write these words, the world is trying to make sense of the brutal assassination of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was targeted by Israeli forces while covering yet another Israeli assault on Jenin. Furthermore, Israeli forces have now attacked the funeral procession leading Shireen to her final resting place. One wonders why is anyone surprised. How often have we seen innocent lives taken? How often have we seen the Israeli military attack funeral processions? And yet, for reasons that perhaps cannot be explained, awe, sadness, and despair have descended upon the world with this particular killing. This particular targeted killing of a journalist – not the first and sadly, probably not the last – touched us all. And the response of the Zionist establishment in occupied Jerusalem, as well as in Washington, is cold and full of excuses.
A few days before Palestinians were set to commemorate the 74th anniversary of their forceful displacement from their ancestral lands, known as the Nakba or catastrophe, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a 23-year-old petition by the residents of Masafer Yatta in the occupied southern West Bank and allowed the Israeli military to demolish hundreds of their houses arguing that they are in “firing range”. The incident is part of a systemic policy of the Israeli state to grab more and more Palestinian lands and force the Indigenous Palestinians to live as a refugees in their own country. This everyday Nakba, however, fails to dampen the will of Palestinians to fight for their freedom, land, and right to return.
Seventy-four years ago, I witnessed the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. I experienced it from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy in my rural village of Battir. Battir was linked by train to Jerusalem, about 12 kilometers away. The steam locomotive shuttled twice a day to the city, allowing villagers to bring their produce to market. Jerusalem was also where many people went to work, visited doctors and met other basic needs. Though many in Battir were illiterate, each day newspapers would come from Jerusalem. People would gather and listen as someone read aloud the news of the events swirling around us and on which our future hinged. For a long time, it was well understood that the British promise of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine was an existential threat.
In an outrageous attack on Palestinian rights, memory and even identity, the police in Berlin, the capital of Germany, have banned all public commemorations of the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, when over 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes and lands by Zionist militias. The Nakba is commemorated on 15 May, known as Nakba Day or the Day of Palestinian Struggle. Events are being organized throughout Palestine and globally. The events banned by the police include two marches, two awareness-raising tents and a cultural gathering, scheduled for 13, 14 and 15 May. Samidoun Deutschland was the organizer of one of the cancelled marches, Palestine Speaks the organizer of another, and the cultural event was organized by a group of Palestinian community organizations. After the ban, an application for a memorial vigil for Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh — shot dead by Israeli occupation forces — was also prohibited as a “replacement for the banned events.”
A world renowned journalist Shireen AbuAqleh was intentionally murdered by an Israeli sniper in Jenin. Millions of tears were shed for her including ours at the Palestne Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (palestinenature.org). We planted ten trees in her honor. The constellation of events and circumstances and her background actually were so amazing that it provided a huge dose of sadness but also a big ray of hope for us. Jenin, where she was murdered, is a center of heroic resistance to occupation (resistance not suported by any government, international or even Palestinian). She was a journalist and wearing protective blue journalist vest and helmet. Thus she mobilized the media. She was beloved by every Palestinian home for her coverage of their daily miseries inflected by foreign occupiers for decades.
Johns Hopkins University students gathered on Thursday, May 12, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Nakba—or “catastrophe”—when, in 1948, what was once Palestine was no longer recognized and was recognized as Israel. Many were killed during what the official account of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement called “Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing.” At least 750,000 Palestinians were displaced. Those advocating for the fundamental human rights of Palestinians argue that the Nakba continues to this day. “The Nakba is ongoing. Families just this week in the village of Massafer Yatta were expelled from their homes,” Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Johns Hopkins, who held Thursday’s event, explained on Instagram.
Human rights advocates on Wednesday called for a thorough and transparent investigation after Al Jazeera and witnesses said Israeli forces shot and killed one of the network's reporters while she was at work. Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known 51-year-old Palestinian-American correspondent, was wearing a helmet and press jacket that clearly identified her as a journalist when Israeli forces shot her in the face as she covered an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the illegally occupied West Bank of Palestine. Another Palestinian journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was shot in the back but is reportedly in stable condition. While Israeli officials falsely claimed Palestinian militants shot Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera condemned her killing as "blatant murder."
The world woke this morning to the news that yet another Palestinian journalist had been killed by Israeli gunfire. Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed while covering Israel's assault on the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Abu Akleh was shot in the head; she was taken to hospital where she was declared dead. "The bullet was aimed at a place that could not be covered by either a helmet or her 'PRESS' vest," explained Waleed Al Omari, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Ramallah. "It seems to me that she was shot by a sniper who wanted to end her life deliberately." A colleague of Abu Akleh, producer Ali Al-Samudi, was shot in the back at the same time. He was reported to be in a stable condition.
The Israeli High Court on Wednesday greenlit the forcible expulsion of 1,200 Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the southern occupied West Bank, ending a more than two-decade battle in the courts. The Israeli government claims the residents of eight herding communities in an area of the South Hebron Hills, known as Masafer Yatta, are residing “illegally” in a military firing zone, and has been attempting to expel them from the area for decades. The residents of Masafer Yatta, however, date their presence in the area several decades ago, before the area was occupied by Israel in 1967, and declared a firing zone by the military in the 1980s. Late Wednesday night, the High Court rejected an appeal by the residents against their expulsion, paving the way for the Israeli military to demolish their homes and forcibly expel them from their land, a crime under international law.
Starting on April 15, the Israeli occupation army and police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem on a daily basis. Under the pretense of providing protection to provocative ‘visits’ by thousands of illegal Israeli Jewish settlers and right-wing fanatics, the Israeli army has wounded hundreds of Palestinians, including journalists, and arrested hundreds more. Palestinians understand that the current attacks on Al-Aqsa carry deeper political and strategic meanings for Israel than previous raids. Al-Aqsa has experienced routine raids by Israeli forces under various guises in the past. However, the significance of the Mosque has acquired additional meanings in recent years, especially following the popular Palestinian rebellion, mass protests, clashes, and a war on Gaza last May, which Palestinians tellingly refer to as Saif Al Quds – Operation Sword of Jerusalem.
There is a steep price to pay for having a conscience and more importantly the courage to act on it. The hounds of hell pin you to the cross, hammering nails into your hands and feet as they grin like the Cheshire cat and mouth bromides about respect for human rights, freedom of expression and diversity. I have watched this happen for some time to Alice Walker, one of the most gifted and courageous writers in America. Walker, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Color Purple, has felt the bitter sting of racism. She refuses to be silent about the plight of the oppressed, including the Palestinians. “Whenever I come out with a book, or anything that will take me before the public, the world, I am assailed as this person I don’t recognize,” she said when I reached her by phone.