Shireen Abu Akleh: Story of journalist slain by Israeli forces

On Saturday, May 13, protesters held 55 paper press jackets outside the BBC headquarters in London to represent the 55 journalists, including Shireen Abu Akleh killed by Israel since 2000.

Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, was shot dead by the Israeli occupation forces in the city of Jenin on Wednesday.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health stated that Abu Akleh died of serious injuries she sustained in the head area while covering the Israeli forces’ storming of Jenin camp on Wednesday morning.

Colleagues and those who were present among the citizens tried to do their utmost to save her and transferred her to the Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital in the city, but her death was announced after attempts to revive her failed.

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Sadness and indignation pervaded entire Palestine and the press community in particular.

Palestinian journalists mourn their colleague Shireen Abu Akleh after her death was announced. (Photo: AFP)

Who is Sheerin Abu Akleh?

Sheerin Abu Akleh was born on January 3, 1971, in Jerusalem and grew up in Jerusalem to a Christian family from Bethlehem in the southern West Bank and holds American citizenship through members of her mother’s family who lived in New Jersey.

She finished her secondary education at the Rosary Sisters School in Beit Hanina in Jerusalem.

As per media reports, she initially studied architecture at the University of Science and Technology in Jordan, then went on to study journalism, where she obtained a BA in Journalism and Media from the Yarmouk University of Jordan, and her specialization was in written journalism.

After her graduation, Abu Akleh returned to the Palestinian territories and worked in several media organizations, including Voice of Palestine Radio and Amman Satellite Channel.

In 1997, she moved to work for the Al Jazeera satellite channel a year after its launch and remained there until she died as a martyr.

Abu Akleh has covered many chapters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the occupied territories for a quarter of a century.

In a previous interview with the Al-Jazeera network, Abu Akleh said that the Israeli authorities have always accused her of photographing security areas, adding that she constantly felt that she was being targeted and that she was facing the brunt of Israeli army forces and armed settlers.

Abu Akleh covered the events of the Palestinian Intifada that began in 2000, the Israeli invasion of Jenin and Tulkarm camp in 2002, and the various Israeli raids and military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Abu Akleh was the first Arab journalist to be allowed into Ashkelon prison in 2005, where she interviewed Palestinian prisoners who had been handed long prison sentences by the Israeli courts.

After the improvement of the Qatari-Egyptian relations and Al Jazeera’s return to Cairo, the media unit chose Abu Akleh to be the first to open its live broadcasts from there in July 2021.

In a promotional video broadcast by Al Jazeera in October 2021 on the occasion of the celebration of its 25th anniversary, Abu Akleh said, “In difficult moments I overcame fear. I chose journalism to be close to people. It is not easy, perhaps, to change reality, but I was at least able to get that voice out to the world. I am Sheerin Abu Akleh.”

She participated in numerous press coverages in the confrontations of Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, and the interior, the latest of which being the confrontations in Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Sheerin and her colleagues were subjected to abuse and assault by the occupation army.

In the Arab world, the last coverage she participated in was in Egypt a few months ago, as she was one of the first journalists to move there after the reopening of Al Jazeera’s office in Cairo, and remained there for a few weeks before she moved to the Qatari capital, Doha. She also appeared in covering several international events, including the previous US elections.

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