Al Jazeera has sued Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague over the death of the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aklehkilled last May, in Jenin in the West Bank, during an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in Jenin.
The 51-year-old, born in Jerusalem and a US citizen, had been a well-known journalist for the television station since 1997, the voice of the Palestinian people.
The formal application to the International Criminal Court filed includes a dossier on a comprehensive six-month investigation by Al Jazeera which collects all available eyewitness evidence and video footage, as well as new material on the killing of Abu Akleh.
The outgoing Israeli premier Yair Lapid immediately reacted to the news by assuring that “no one will question or investigate the soldiers of the army iIsraeli”. And he added: “No one can give us morals on behavior in war, much less the Al Jazeera TV network”commenting on the initiative of the Qatar network.
For his part, Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed regret over the death of the American-Palestinian reporter, a well-known face of the Qatari broadcaster, but maintained that it occurred in a “clear” combat situation. He then advised Al Jazeera to “check first what happens to journalists in Iran”.
An investigation by the Israeli armed forces, conducted in recent months, had concluded that Abu Akleh was most likely hit by a military bullet, but not intentionally. According to the report, a soldier, while using a telescopic scope during the firefight, would have mistakenly identified her as a militiaman. The killing of the journalist, shortly before US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region, had raised a wave of controversy and created deep friction between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority but also with Washington itself.
Rodney Dixon, Al Jazeera’s lawyer and Lina Abu Akleh, niece of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, enter the International Criminal Court in The Hague for file presentation
The evidence presented in the International Criminal Court by Al Jazeera lawyers
“The argument that Shireen was accidentally killed in an exchange of blows is completely unfounded.”
Al Jazeera’s new Fault Lines documentary shows how Abu Akleh and other journalists, wearing hard hats and bulletproof vests clearly marked with the word “PRESS,” were walking down a road within sight of Israeli forces when they came under fire . The new evidence presented, according to Al Jazeera, shows that “Shireen and her colleagues were directly attacked by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).”
The request submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is placed “in the context of a broader attack on Al Jazeera and journalists in Palestine,” said Rodney Dixon KC, Al Jazeera’s lawyer, referring to incidents such as the bombing of the network’s office in Gaza on May 15 2021.
“It’s not a single incident, it’s a homicide that is part of a larger pattern that the prosecution should investigate to identify those responsible for the homicide and to press charges against them,” he said.
Al Jazeera hopes the ICC prosecutor will “effectively start investigating this case” after the request made, Dixon said, a request that complements the complaint filed with the International Criminal Court by Abu Akleh’s family in September, supported by the union of the Palestinian press and the International Federation of Journalists.