The US Council of Muslim Organizations, on behalf of our member institutions and American Muslims, condemns in the strongest terms the targeted assassination of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh – clearly marked with a yellow press vest and helmet – by Israeli soldiers while she was covering their military sweep through Jenin today for Al-Jazeera.
We call for a thorough, non-partisan internationally formed and vetted investigation into Shireen’s murder by an assassin’s kill-shot to the head and the swift punishment of all perpetrating military and political officials behind this dastardly act of open intimidation against Palestinians and the journalists who cover their oppression and occupation.
“The Israeli army shot us,” said Ali Al-Samudi, Shireen’s producer, who the Israeli soldiers also shot in the back. “There was no Palestinian gunman in the place.”
We denounce, as well, the Israeli Defense Forces’ shamefully standard, cynical attempts to cast blame for its soldiers’ premeditated crimes against innocent Palestinians and those intrepid heroes like Shireen Abu Akleh who seek to tell the world the story of their brutal occupation, dispossession, and unchecked systematic abuse by the Israeli government, military, and colonialist-occupying settlers.
“I saw Shireen on the ground,” said journalist Mujahed al-Saadi. “We tried to rescue Shireen and we couldn’t.
“The occupation targeted Shireen while wearing a helmet, the injury was under the ear,” he added. “Shireen fell while she was wearing press (gear) and even with that the people who tried to save her were shot at, the targeting was clear against Shireen and against us as journalistic teams.”
While both the White House and U.S. State Department called for an “immediate and thorough” investigation into the killing saying that “those responsible must be held accountable,” USCMO and the American Muslim community call on both President Joseph Biden and Secretary Antony Blinken not to yet again shield the Israeli government, the IDF, or their officials from bearing the full consequences of their actions as determined independently by the international community’s investigation.
Nor should the IDF or the Israeli government be permitted take any part in the international community’s inquiry into these crimes, as the Israeli’s are proposing in order to obfuscate the investigation and its findings.
We pray for the family and loved ones of Shireen in Jerusalem, where she was born, and in America, where she was a citizen, that her death, like her life and work, will bring truth and justice to bear in Palestine in the full light of day.