An Al Jazeera journalist was shot in the head Wednesday while covering Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank, the news outlet reported. Shireen Abu Akleh, a U.S. citizen, was pronounced dead at a hospital after the shooting, which the reporter’s colleagues described as a targeted attack by Israeli forces.
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” said Akleh’s colleague Ali Samoudi. “The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen… there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene,” Samoudi said.
Samoudi, who was shot in the back, has been hospitalized in stable condition after the shooting in the town of Jenin.
Another Palestinian journalist at the scene, Shatha Hanaysha, alleged that the press had been deliberately targeted by Israeli forces.
“We were four journalists, we were all wearing vests, all wearing helmets. The [Israeli] occupation army did not stop firing even after she collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots. The army was adamant on shooting to kill,” Hanaysha told Al Jazeera.
The news network has called on the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague,” suggesting they may “try to cover up their crime.”
The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, is calling for a “thorough investigation into the circumstances of [Akleh’s] death and the injury of at least one other journalist today in Jenin.”
Israeli authorities have painted a drastically different picture of events surrounding the well-known journalist’s death, claiming Palestinian gunmen had opened fire at the time Akleh was struck.
The Israeli Defense Forces said they are “looking into the possibility that journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”
Akleh, who had been with the news network since 1997, was one of its first field correspondents.
“Shireen was a brave, kind and high integrity journalist that I and millions of Palestinians grew up watching,” activist Fadi Quran wrote of her death.
Her last dispatch to the news network’s Ramallah office, sent at 6:13 a.m., said: “Occupation forces storm Jenin and besiege a house in the Jabriyat neighborhood. On the way there, I will bring you news as soon as the picture becomes clear.”