Time to end tragedies like that of Abu Akleh - GulfToday

Time to end tragedies like that of Abu Akleh


Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights has concluded that the bullets that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh of Al-Jazeera on May 11 were fired by Israeli forces. “All information we have gathered…is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians,” UN  official Ravina Shamdasani said speaking to reporters on Friday.

“One single bullet injured Ali Sammoudi in the shoulder; another single bullet hit Abu Akleh in the head and killed her instantly,” she said. She also said that Abu Akleh and other journalists were quite conspicuous as journalists, and it was not a case that Abu Akleh was fired at by mistake. Shamdasani explained: “The journalists said they chose a side street for their approach to avoid the location of armed Palestinians in order to make their presence visible to the Israeli forces deployed down the street.

Several single, well-aimed bullets were fired towards them [the journalists] from the direction of the Israeli security forces.”

The UN body has also found that bullets were fired at an unarmed man who tried to come to the rescue of Abu Akleh. She also said, “That the bullets that were fired at Abu Akleh on that fatal day came from the Israeli side was the conclusion of many media organisations including Al Jazeera. But Israel had at first denied that Abu Akleh had been killed by its forces, and later modified it to say that there was a possibility that the bullets that killed Abu Akleh could have been fired from its forces.” Israel’s internal investigation report is yet to be made public. UNHCR chief Michele Bachelet had urged the Israeli government to open a criminal investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh and all other killings in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is planning to file a case against Israel in the International Court of Criminal Justice (ICCJ).

The issue of use of disproportionate force by Israel against the Palestinians has been a matter of concern among rights advocacy groups but Israel has remained defiant and continues to ignore world opinion. Israel has been arguing about the firing of rockets from Hamas-ruled Gaza, but the Israeli retaliation through use of helicopter gunships has been seen to be excessive.

The argument that Israel is acting in self-defence is not always credible. It is the harsh regime of restricting the movement of Palestinians, especially in the Palestinian territories as well as occupied West Bank makes it a tinder-box, where Palestinians resort to action out of sheer desperation and frustration.

The vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence between Israel and Palestine can only cease with a peace agreement between the two sides.

Successive Israeli governments have been dragging their feet in the matter. Even when Ehud Barak became prime minister in the 1990s and showed a certain willingness to move towards a peaceful settlement, he made moves on the Lebanon front and not on the Palestinian one.

While Israel has been trying to integrate itself into the regional state network with its treaties with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, it has not shown the same eagerness in restarting the stalled negotiations with Palestine.

The clashes then is bound to erupt continuously between the two sides, and it will lead to avoidable tragedies like the death of Abu Akleh.

Perhaps the world has to stop being a passive spectator to the confrontation between Israel and Palestine.

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