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UN Security Council unanimously demands probe of Al Jazeera journalist’s death

Diplomats say negotiations over the joint statement — a rare expression of unity from the body on Israel — were particularly arduous

Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, a veteran Al Jazeera journalist who was shot and killed during clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen while covering an IDF raid in Jenin on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (Courtesy)
Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, a veteran Al Jazeera journalist who was shot and killed during clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen while covering an IDF raid in Jenin on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (Courtesy)

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously condemned the killing of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh killed amid clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops while covering a military raid in the West Bank, diplomats said.

The statement — a rare case of Security Council unity on an issue related to Israel — also called for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into her killing.”

According to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity, the negotiations on the text were particularly arduous.

China successfully pushed the United States to remove paragraphs denouncing abuses committed against the media around the world, defending their freedom and urging their protection while covering military operations, according to diplomatic sources and different versions of the declaration obtained by AFP during the discussions.

The final text merely says that “journalists should be protected as civilians” and does not mention violence during the Friday funeral for Abu Akleh.

Television footage showed pallbearers struggling to stop Abu Akleh’s coffin from falling to the ground as Israeli police officers charged at them, grabbing Palestinian flags from mourners.

Police have said they intervened because the casket was seized outside Jerusalem’s St. Joseph’s Hospital by a mob who prevented it from being loaded onto a hearse, as previously agreed, for that part of the funeral procession. But Abu Akleh’s brother said the family and mourners had hoped to hold a “small procession” but were “bombarded” by officers as they left the hospital.

Israeli police confront mourners as they carry the coffin of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in Jerusalem, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Abu Akleh left for Jenin on Wednesday morning to cover clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen. She was shot in the head while wearing a press vest, with Israeli and Palestinian authorities providing different accounts of who killed her.

Palestinian witnesses and officials said Israeli soldiers killed Abu Akleh. Israeli officials at first said it was likely Palestinian gunmen had mistakenly shot her, but later said errant Israeli sniper fire could also have caused her death.

Israel is insisting it cannot determine who shot her without examining the bullet removed from her neck, Channel 12 reported Friday, adding that Israel has asked the US for assistance in persuading the Palestinian Authority to cooperate.

On Saturday, the Palestinian Authority said that while international bodies could “participate” in the investigation, Israel would not be permitted to join the probe into Abu Akleh’s death.

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