Israel Defense Forces apologize for death Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Aklea year or a day after she was shot in the back of the head while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces apologized for the first time for the killing of a prominent correspondent after admitting last year that there was a “high possibility” that she was shot dead by an Israeli soldier.
Apologies came from the chief representative of the IDF, Rear Admiral. Daniel Hagari interviewed by Eleni Gioko CNN on Connect the World on Thursday.
“I think I have the opportunity to say here that we are very sorry about the death of Shirin Abu Akle,” he said.
“She was a journalist, a very respected journalist. In Israel we value our democracy, and in a democracy we value journalism and a free press. We want journalists to feel safe in Israel, especially in wartime, even if they criticize us,” he said.
The apology came days after the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a report saying the Israeli military has not been held responsible for the killings of at least 20 journalists over the past two decades.
The press rights group said it had documented at least 20 journalists killed in Israeli military gunfire since 2001, adding that 18 of those killed were Palestinians. “No one has ever been charged or prosecuted for these deaths,” the press release said.
CPJ said that in its report, titled “Death Pattern,” it found “a routine sequence” that takes place when a journalist is killed by the IDF.
“Israeli officials do not take into account the evidence and statements of witnesses, often appearing to exonerate soldiers for the killings, while the investigation is still ongoing,” CPJ said, describing the IDF’s procedure for investigating military killings of civilians such as journalists. like a black box. the results of any such investigation shall be kept confidential.
“When investigations are underway, it often takes the Israeli military months or years to investigate killings, and there is little chance for families, mostly Palestinian journalists, inside Israel to get justice,” CPJ said.
CNN investigation May last year unearthed evidence – including two videos from the scene of the shooting – that there was neither active fighting nor any Palestinian militants near Abu Akle in the moments leading up to her death.
Video footage obtained by CNN, corroborated by the testimony of eight eyewitnesses, a medical examiner and an explosives expert, suggests Israeli forces targeted the journalist.
While the IDF first acknowledged last September that there was a “high possibility” that Abu Akle was “accidentally” shot dead by Israeli fire, its military prosecutor general’s office said in a statement that it did not intend to open criminal cases or prosecute any of the involved soldiers.
Responding to a report by CPJ earlier this month, the IDF said it “deplores the harm to civilians during operational activities and believes that protecting freedom of the press and the profession of journalists is of great importance.”
“The Israel Defense Forces does not deliberately target civilians and live fire in combat is only used after all other options have been exhausted,” the statement said.