Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was killed on Wednesday morning while covering an Israeli counter-terror operation in the West Bank city of Jenin. Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the death of Abu Aqleh, 51, a Palestinian who has covered the region for more than 20 years.
The Twitter account of Al Jazeera blamed Israel for her death: “Our colleague was killed by the Israeli army while covering the attack on the Jenin refugee camp.” However, in a statement, the Israeli army indicated the possibility that she was hit by Palestinian gunfire and said that the incident is being investigated.
Another Al Jazeera journalist, producer Ali al-Samudi, was wounded in the incident, according to the Qatar-based TV channel. Avichai Edrei, Arabic-speaking spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said that the initial investigation indicated that Abu Aqleh may have been struck by Palestinian gunfire and not by IDF shooting.
Edrei said that videos distributed by Palestinian militants appear to show boasting about hitting an IDF soldier after firing indiscriminately, although no IDF casualties were reported. One video appeared to show Palestinian militants firing indiscriminately, with someone shouting that “we hit a soldier, he is lying on the ground,” although no IDF soldier was wounded during the operation and the only one lying on the ground was Abu Aqleh.
“We call on the Palestinians to investigate the issue in a joint pathological investigation. The State of Israel is in favor of the truth. Until now, they are refusing, perhaps in order to hide the truth. We express regret over the journalist’s death,” Edrei said. The IDF, Shin Bet internal security service and Border Police forces were conducting an anti-terror operation in Jenin and other areas of the West Bank on Wednesday morning, according to the Israeli army statement.
“As part of the activity in the Jenin refugee camp, suspects fired heavily at the force and threw explosives. The force responded by firing,” the statement said. Israeli forces have stepped up counter-terror activities in Palestinian towns in the West Bank in recent weeks amid a terrorism wave that has seen 19 Israelis killed.