By: Khaled Tayeh
RAMALLAH, Thursday, August 25, 2022 (WAFA) – Over 100 days have passed since Palestinians everywhere lived one of the toughest moments in 2022 when veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered in cold blood by Israeli gunfire in Jenin in May.
Abu Akleh’s importance comes from the fact that she was one of the most influential, prominent, and hard-working women in the field of journalism and media in Palestine who worked for over 25 years for Al-Jazeera, covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
On May 11, while covering an Israeli army assault in the northern occupied West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, Abu Akleh, 51, a Palestinian-American journalist from Jerusalem, was murdered by a bullet to the head fired by an Israeli sniper.
Ever since her killing, tributes have been pouring in her name as Palestinians do their best to keep her memory alive as Abu Akleh spent all of her life as a journalist advocating for Palestinians, exposing Israeli crimes to the world, and was even killed by an Israeli soldier while on duty.
Drawings, graffiti, images and murals in dedication of Abu Akleh with slogans of the phrases she said in her reports can easily be found anywhere in the West Bank cities and even in Arab areas inside Israel such as Nazareth, where activists set up a mural in tribute to the slain journalist.
Recently, the Ramallah Municipality named a central street after Abu Akleh. The street is located in front of Al-Jazeera office in Ramallah, where Abu Akleh worked, along with a wall mural. Her niece, Lina, said Shireen had a fear of heights, thus she didn't report from the balcony of the office. As a result, she'd go downstairs and report live from that street now named after her.
In Nablus, precisely in the town of Deir Sharaf, Palestinians installed a memorial in dedication of Abu Akleh on the road leading to Jenin; where the reporter went to cover the Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp, where she was shot dead by Israeli forces.
Many Palestinian universities such as Birzeit University, Al-Quds University and the Arab American University, launched scholarships and prizes in honor of Abu Akleh's name.
Birzeit University announced the Shireen Abu Akleh Award for Media Excellence, an annual award for Palestinian media workers, aimed at encouraging creativity and ethnic media work that tells the story of Palestine.
A number of Palestinian families have named their new baby-born daughters after the iconic journalist. Some even chose Jenin to be the name of their daughters as well.
The Bani Suhaila Municipality, to the east of the city of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, opened a square and named it after Abu Akleh.
Several Palestinian kids’ summer camps were named “Shireen” in several areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In Bethlehem, an art exhibition titled “At a Near Distance” was launched in dedication to Abu Akleh.
Not long ago, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate premiered a film titled “Shireen” and announced the establishment of the Shireen Abu Akleh Global Organization to support female journalists around the world.
The Palestinian Ministry of Women Affairs hosted a ceremony held in commemoration of Abu Akleh. The event was sponsored by President Mahmoud Abbas, and authors are currently working on books that tell Abu Akleh’s life story.
Despite all the reports, investigations released by major US prestigious media publications, as well as the thorough investigation by Palestinian General Persecution, which all confirmed that the veteran journalist was killed by an armor-piercing projectile fired directly at her head by an Israeli sniper, the report released by the US administration still failed to accuse Israel of Abu Akleh’s killing. To this day, Israel still hasn’t launched its own investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.
Abu Akleh’s family still demands justice for the reporter and even sent a letter to US President Joe Biden accusing his administration of intentionally undermining efforts toward justice and accountability for Abu Akleh's killing.
“We, the family of Shireen Abu Akleh, write to express our grief, outrage and sense of betrayal concerning your administration’s abject response to the extrajudicial killing of our sister and aunt by Israeli forces on May 11, 2022, while on assignment in the occupied Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank,” wrote Abu Akleh's brother Anton, and niece, Lina, in their letter to President Biden.
Whatever the position of the US or Israel, Abu Akleh will be always remembered by the Palestinians and the world at large for her work and dedication to reporting the truth despite the dangers accompanying that.