A female journalist for Al Jazeera was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday. The broadcaster and a reporter who was wounded in the incident blamed Israeli forces, while Israel claimed there was evidence the two were hit by Palestinian gunfire. Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian reporter for the broadcaster's Arabic language channel who's also a US citizen, was shot and died soon afterward. Ali Samoudi, another Palestinian journalist, was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in the back, reports the AP. The Qatar-based network interrupted its broadcast to announce her death. In a statement flashed on its channel, it called on the international community to "condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague."
"We pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice," Al Jazeera said. The Israeli military said its forces came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. The military said it was investigating "and looking into the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen." Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that based on the information they'd already gathered, "there is a considerable chance that armed Palestinians, who fired wildly, were the ones who brought about the journalist's unfortunate death." The Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security matters, condemned what it said was a "shocking crime" committed by Israeli forces.
Samoudi, who was working as Abu Akleh's producer, says they were among a group of seven reporters who went to cover the raid early Wednesday. He said they were all wearing protective gear that clearly marked them as reporters, and they passed by Israeli troops so the soldiers would know they were there. He says a first shot missed them, then a second struck him, and a third killed Abu Akleh. He said there were no militants or other civilians in the area—only the reporters and the army. He said the military's suggestion that they were shot by militants was a "complete lie." Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem. She began working for Al Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported from across the Palestinian territories. Israelis have long been critical of Al Jazeera's coverage, but authorities generally allow its journalists to operate freely.
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