the account of a companion of Shireen Abu Akleh

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After four months of prevarication, the Israeli army finally recognized their ” LIKELY responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. This Palestinian-American, star reporter for Al Jazeera, was shot in the head in May 2022, in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. RFI went to the scene of the tragedy with Ali al-Samoudi, a colleague of the journalist, who was also injured.

Since the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, many investigations carried out by the international media, and also by the UN, have blamed Israel. Moreover, from the first moments after his death, Palestinian journalists who were on the ground confirmed Israel’s responsibility. But the Jewish state is engaged in a real communications battle to clean up its army. ” I was the first on the scene that morning. I asked to find out where the Israeli army was and where the clashes were taking place with the Palestinian groups. There were the Israeli tanks, at the level of this yellow car in front of us “, reported Ali al-Samoudi.

► Also read: Israel: army admits its “possible” responsibility for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh

RFI: The Israeli army tank is about 300-400 meters from here?

Ali al-Samudi: Instead 200 meters. Their sniper can of course see up to 3,000 meters. We were dressed like journalists: helmets and bulletproof vests, with the mention “PRESS” in English. Then we placed ourselves in the open for five minutes in front of the army, to give the soldiers time to recognize us. Obviously, as Palestinian journalists, we do not work in coordination with the Israeli army. In the field, we communicate by signal. For five minutes, we remained in the open in front of the soldiers, waiting for their instructions. We live under work. We know that the life of a Palestinian has no value for the Israeli army. And so, we always follow the instructions of the army.

How do you know that you are correctly recognized by the Israeli army?

We stayed in the open for a long time in front of the soldiers. We are talking about the Israeli army, a modern and highly equipped army. Since the soldiers did not ask us to leave the area, we went to the road where they were. At that time, the road was deserted. There are no clashes or Palestinian armed groups. And so, as we walked towards the soldiers, there was a first shot. I was at the head of the procession. I turned and said to Shireen behind me, ” The army shot. We have to leave the place. » I didn’t have time to finish my sentence… I felt like my back had exploded. I knew I was shot.

Shireen then shouted, “ Ali was touched! »

The next ball was for him. He fell here, in this place. There he died.

What is Israel’s interest in targeting journalists. And especially journalists working in international media?

It wasn’t the Israeli sniper who shot us that killed Shireen. He was his commander. The soldier has no initiative. He obeyed orders. The Israeli army fired at us because they didn’t want any media coverage of their operation. We journalists expose the violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces. By shooting at us, they wanted to silence us when they were conducting a major operation in Jenin.

You are also injured. Is it still painful for you?

This is the seventh or eighth time in my career that I have been hit by fire in Israel. I live in constant fear and stress. As the world watched, Israel killed Shireen, and I miraculously escaped death. I got shot…lucky me. Because they aimed at my heart, and when I turned I was hit by a bullet in the back. The Israeli army films all its operations. Often, they even publish excerpts. I challenge them to broadcast the pictures of this operation. But they won’t, because that would prove their guilt.

Isn’t that a mistake?

No. The proof, after touching me, they continued to shoot and Shireen was killed. Shireen was a colleague, a friend, a sister. We have been working together for 25 years. The day he died, I woke him up. I called him to tell him that there was an army operation. He begins his day by saying: Hello Ali. His last words were: ” Ali was hit. He screamed for help. He sacrificed himself for a just cause. He was killed in cold blood. He is the voice of Palestine that cannot be silenced. We now have a slogan: Shireen is alive. Coverage continues. »

Thank you very much.

Farewell Shireen Abu Akleh. Rest in peace.

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