Palestine asks ICC to investigate Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing


A picture of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in the West Bank on May 11, 2022. Imad Creidi/Reuters

  • Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israel military raid on 11 May.
  • Al Jazeera says Akleh was “assassinated in cold blood” by Israeli forces.
  • The Israel military said it had no plans to launch a criminal investigation into the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist.

The Palestinian foreign ministry has announced it has formally asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

On 11 May, Abu Akleh, 51, was covering an Israeli military raid near the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank when she was shot dead. Eyewitnesses and colleagues who were present at the scene said she was killed by Israeli forces.

“We have documented [the crime] and submitted a file about it to the ICC prosecutor alongside other Israeli violations,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

Al-Maliki called on The Hague-based court to add Abu Akleh’s death to other crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians to facilitate an official investigation and bring Israel to accountability.

“Palestinians say the killing of Abu Akleh is war crimes indeed. They have referred the case to the ICC in addition to the dozens of other cases that have been filed over the last year or so…,” said Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Al Jazeera says Abu Akleh was “assassinated in cold blood” by Israeli forces. The news network and the Palestinians have called for an independent and impartial probe into the killing, which has attracted global condemnation.

Hoping to get justice from the ICC

Meanwhile, Israel’s military prosecutor has called on the army to conduct an in-depth investigation.

Al Jazeera’s Ibrahim said that “this only means that the circles within the Israeli army are talking about the potential of opening an investigation.

“From our experience, it’s been very rare that the Israeli military opens investigations into killings of Palestinians and in the rare cases that it does, it almost never leads to an indictment.

Ibrahim said:

When it does lead to an indictment, the sentence is usually light and Palestinians say it’s disproportionate to the crime. That’s why they’re hoping to get justice from the ICC.

The Israeli media reported last week that the military had no plans to launch a criminal investigation into the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist.

On Monday, the Israeli army said that if an Israeli soldier fired the lethal shot, it did not appear that the soldier was guilty of criminal misconduct.

“Given that Ms Abu Akleh was killed in the midst of an active combat zone, there can be no immediate suspicion of criminal activity absent further evidence,” said a statement citing Military Advocate Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi on Monday.

Tomer-Yerushalmi will ultimately be responsible for determining whether any individual soldier will face disciplinary action. She stressed that Israel does not yet know whether Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was killed by stray Palestinian gunfire or by an Israeli bullet aimed at a Palestinian fighter.

“The inability to inspect the bullet, which is being held by the Palestinian Authority, continues to cast doubt on the circumstances of Ms Abu Akleh’s death,” the statement said. The army has said it had zeroed in on one incident where an Israeli soldier using “a telescopic scope” fired at a “Palestinian gunman”.

However, a new video that begins moments before the shooting shows relative calm and quiet with no sounds of fighting, corroborating witness reports that there were no clashes or “active combat zone” between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters at the time of the Al Jazeera reporter’s killing.


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