PALESTINE, WHERE EVERY DAY CAIN RETURNS
After centuries of anti-Semitism, the horror provoked by the Holocaust made possible the birth of the State of Israel – a miracle that the Jewish people were forced to defend with arms for many years. Now that era is over, and the Arab countries, Egypt in the lead, are Israel’s allies. But in Tel Aviv, right-wing extremists have long been in charge, dumping all tensions due to internal problems on the Palestinian question. Today, in Palestine, the Arabs are the victims, and the Jews are their torturers – and this in spite of the corruption that reigns supreme in both camps, and in spite of the attacks perpetrated against the people of Israel: unjustifiable attacks, but committed out of desperation, because Israel is doing everything in its power to annihilate Palestine.
Obviously, with these assumptions, freedom of expression, of journalism, and the right to live are still myths to be conquered. Especially in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the Israeli army, with the arrogance of the invader, fights an unequal battle to usurp the Palestinian people’s right to independence and survival. In recent weeks, taking advantage of the mass distraction due to the war in Ukraine, Zionist violence has been unleashed everywhere, and in particular on Jerusalem’s Masjid Al Aqsa mosque, one of the places dearest to Muslims and a symbol of the Palestinians, who are its guardians.
On Wednesday, 11 May, yet another unjustifiable murder was perpetrated in what should be God’s Promised Land: Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American citizen and Al Jazeera correspondent for decades, was shot dead while following an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, a territory that the Palestinians want to be the main part of their future state. A bullet fired coldly by a sniper, as she sought cover from a sudden and unprovoked attack by the Israeli army, hit her in the head – despite the fact that she was wearing a bullet-proof vest and a blue helmet with the cubital PRESS inscription in full view.
Death of a heroine
Shireen Abu Akleh (left), on the ground after being hit, and her colleague Shaza Hanaysheh (right)
Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem into a Catholic family. She studied in Jordan, earning a degree in journalism, then spent years in the United States, obtaining American citizenship through ties with part of her family that had been transplanted to New Jersey for decades. After graduating, she worked for several media outlets, including the Voice of Palestine radio station and the Amman satellite channel, before joining Al Jazeera in 1997. She initially studied to become an architect, but eventually chose journalism ‘to be close to the people’. Her broadcasts over the years have provided unprecedented insight and documentation of the Israeli occupation and its impact on Palestinian lives.
For her people, Shireen is a symbol. A woman accredited by the West who, for the first time, seeks to tell the truth about Palestine. Among her many assignments were five wars in Gaza and Israel’s war with Lebanon in 2006. He has reported on forced evictions from homes, the killings of young Palestinians, the hundreds of uncharged detainees languishing hopelessly in Israeli jails, and the continued illegal expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
For many young Palestinian journalists, Shireen was the first to stand up for her people on television screens. Her rise to prominence came at a time when Al Jazeera Arabic was breaking the dominance of Western international media channels over the reporting of news from the region. Many Arab women became journalists, influenced by Shireen’s reporting or inspired by her journalism courses at Birzeit University in Ramallah. Murals depicting her have appeared all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem, elevating the figure of a simple woman, who does not belong to a political faction, and who is mostly Catholic, to icon status, a first in 74 years of conflict.
Ali al-Samudi, a Palestinian journalist working as a producer for Al Jazeera and who was at her side at the time, was also targeted, sustaining a gunshot wound to the back. Admitted to hospital, he said in a video: “We were filming. They did not ask us to stop shooting or leave. They shot in cold blood, first the shot that hit me, then the one that killed Shireen’.
Official sources speak of a firefight in the Jenin refugee camp between the Israeli army and Palestinian militiamen, but several witnesses, including an AFP photographer, deny seeing armed Palestinians at the site where Abu Akleh was killed. The journalists were in an open area, far from the military confrontation with the Palestinian resistance. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he held the Israeli authorities ‘fully responsible’ for her death.
Israeli disinformation and the struggle for truth
For the first time, American newspapers clamour for the punishment of the murderers of a Palestinian
This came as no surprise. In recent weeks, Israel has carried out almost daily raids in the occupied West Bank in response to attacks perpetrated in Israel by Palestinians in the Jenin area. Shaza Hanaysheh, a journalist from a Palestinian news site, who was with Abu Akleh, gave a similar account in an interview with the Al Jazeera Arabic channel, saying that there were no clashes or shootings in the immediate vicinity. When gunshots rang out, she and Abu Akleh ran to a tree for cover: ‘I reached the tree before Shireen did. She fell to the ground. The soldiers did not stop firing even after she fell. Every time I reached out my hand to take Shireen to cover, the soldiers fired at us”.
Shireen was hit near the ear, where the helmet does not cover her. It was a shot of extreme precision fired by a sniper, as can be seen in the pictures taken by the cameramen present: Brigadier General Ran Kochav, the Israeli commander, said on the radio that the two journalists were standing next to armed Palestinians. Shortly after the shooting, the Israeli government circulated a video claiming that it may have been Palestinian gunmen who killed Shireen – but this claim was refuted by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which analysed video evidence of the murder.
The Israeli government claims that the Palestinians fired randomly, and that it was therefore likely that the two journalists were hit by friendly fire. The Palestinian National Authority, on the other hand, accused the Israeli soldiers of killing the journalist, but prevented an autopsy and would not hand over the bullet extracted from the journalist’s head to the Israeli authorities – thus preventing a ballistics report. Israel initially offered to launch a joint investigation, but this proposal was rejected by the Palestinian Authority, which instead wants an international investigation.
On 19 May, the Israeli army made it known that the military police, the internal body that deals with alleged crimes committed by army personnel, will not open an investigation into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. In a communiqué to the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, the army justifies its decision as follows: by law, the death of a Palestinian in the course of a military operation does not require an investigation, unless there is a suspicion that a crime has been committed: and according to the Israeli army, in this case, there would be no evidence in favour of such a thesis.
In April, only two weeks before the killing of Abu Akleh, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) lodged a formal complaint with the International Criminal Court over Israeli attacks on Palestinian journalists, as well as the bombing of media offices. The world, from the UN to the US and European chancelleries, condemned the murder of the journalist and demanded a thorough, transparent and above all independent investigation.
The Associated Press reconstruction supports the Palestinian authorities’ claims
The death of Shireen Abu Akleh, according to the US State Department, ‘is an affront to the free press everywhere in the world’. The Biden administration, as well as members of Congress and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed condolences, pointing out: “Those responsible must be punished as such”. The US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said: “The United States encourages a swift, thorough, and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his death, even though Israel’s modus operandi of investigating the murder of American citizens, Palestinian-Americans, and Palestinian journalists is neither transparent, credible, nor reliable. No punitive measures have been taken by the Israeli government for the perpetrators of previous murders of US citizens, including Rachel Corrie , Orwah Hammad , Mahmoud Shaalan and Omar Asad “.
Palestinian American MP Rashida Tlaib, however, pointed out that as long as Israel continues to receive unconditional subsidies from Washington, there will be a real chance of justice for Abu Akleh and the Palestinian people. Along the same lines, the American jurist Ilhan Omar: ‘Every year we provide Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid, without restrictions. How can this be justified in the light of the repeated violations of human rights?”. The UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Francesca Albanese, also described the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh as a war crime and called for the file to be forwarded to the Hague Court.
CNN and the Associated Press confirmed in two separate reports that the journalist was killed by Israeli occupation forces. CNN even suggested that she was deliberately targeted. In its investigation, it uncovered new evidence suggesting that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in a targeted attack by Israeli forces and disputed video footage sent from Israeli Prime Minister Bennett’s office south of the camp, more than 300 metres from Abu Akleh. The coordinates of the two locations, which were verified using Mapillary, a road imagery platform, and footage of the area shot by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, show that the shooting in the videos could not have been the same barrage of gunfire that struck Abu Akleh and his producer, Ali al-Samoudi.
According to the initial Israeli army investigation, at the time of Abu Akleh’s death, an Israeli sniper was 200 metres away. CNN asked Robert Maher, a professor specialising in audio forensic analysis, to evaluate the footage of Abu Akleh’s shooting and estimate the distance between the gunman and the journalist, taking into account the rifle used by Israeli forces. The video that Maher analysed captures two bursts of gunfire and confirms that Shireen was intentionally killed with targeted shots and not the victim of random or stray fire. The weapon of the soldier who may have killed Shireen Abu Akleh has been identified and the only possible suspect in the murder of the Al Jazeera correspondent is an Israeli soldier.
The confirmation came from the Chief Prosecutor of the Palestinian Authority, Akram Al-Khatib, who announced the conclusions of his report at a press conference in Ramallah: Shireen Abu Akleh was the target of a 5.56 mm calibre armour-piercing bullet from a Ruger M40, an American sniper rifle. According to the Palestinian prosecutor, a jeep of the Israeli forces was 200 metres away from the journalists and the bullets were fired from about 170-180 metres. The traces on the tree were concentrated at a height of 127-178 cm, indicating that the shooter was aiming at the upper body with the intent to kill. Traces of three bullets are still in the trunk of the tree.
The Palestinian Foreign Minister announced that the Palestinian Authority, in consultation with the television station Al Jazeera, had instructed a legal team to report the killing of the journalist to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. On 26 May, Al Jazeera formed a coalition between its legal team and international experts and is preparing a dossier on the murder of Abu Akleh to be presented to the prosecutor in the Netherlands. In addition to the killing of Abu Akleh, the dossier also includes the Israeli bombing, the total destruction of Al Jazeera’s office in Gaza in May 2021, and the continuous incitement and attacks on Al Jazeera journalists working in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The funeral of journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein on 26 April 2018, killed while following one of the ‘Great March of Return’ protests near the Israeli border in the Gaza Strip
Former Palestinian Minister of Information Mustafa Barghouti accuses the Hague Court, stating that ‘we have been providing information for the past 13 years, but investigations have not yet begun. While in less than two months the Court has sent 42 investigators to Ukraine’. The Israeli NGO Yesh Din states that around 80 per cent of the complaints filed by Palestinians about injuries suffered by soldiers are dismissed without a criminal investigation. Of the few investigations launched, only 3.2% result in the indictment and prosecution of the soldiers responsible. This means that the chances of a complaint filed by a Palestinian being properly investigated and resulting in an indictment is less than one per cent (0.7%).
These figures are indicative of significant flaws in the law enforcement system and its profound inability to protect Palestinians. Palestinian and Israeli NGOs have documented the deaths of 155 Palestinian children killed by Tel Aviv army fire, but only three criminal charges have been issued for those murders. Reporters Without Borders states that at least 30 journalists have been killed in the Occupied Territories since 2000, 86 since Israel first occupied the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967. It has documented 140 Israeli violations against Palestinian reporters since March 2018, the start of the ‘Great March of Return’. The count includes two journalists wearing clearly marked press vests who were killed by snipers, and a freelance photographer who was shot in both legs and had to undergo partial amputation of his left leg. “The Israelis, in the space of two decades, have gone from being victims to executioners – and the reason is that they act with impunity,” said Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders, “because the United States has taught them that they can do it”.
The forbidden funeral
Israeli police attack mourners carrying Shireen’s coffin
The funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh turned into perhaps the largest demonstration of Palestinian nationalism in Jerusalem. During the funeral procession, dozens of policemen caught up with the coffin bearers and dispersed them with batons, almost knocking them over. The Palestinians, putting their bodies into a shield, resisted. This is because Israel prohibits the public display of Palestinian flags and assaults people who hoist them during demonstrations or protests in the city. Any excuse is good for assault and beatings.
The journalist’s relatives were notified the day after she was killed, the police raided the family home and forcibly removed the Palestinian flag flying outside. While receiving condolences, the journalist’s brother, Anton, was summoned to the police station and warned that the funeral would be scattered if there was an ‘escalation’: a clear warning. The charge of the Israeli soldiers against the coffin has the flavour of the denial of identity after death. This seems to be the fate of the Palestinians, relegated to the corner in the Arab world in turmoil, where a flag resting on a coffin has become the enemy to be killed. It is as if beyond the body a sense of belonging is to be erased: without origins we are nothing.
This is the great risk of the Palestinian cause: to disappear forever, sucked into the black hole of lost causes, holding the keys to houses they will never see again, because they are expropriated, their memories erased. We speak of the destruction of homes, which has been taking place since the 1980s, when Israeli officials usurped several West Bank territories to create military training camps. Human rights activists, both Palestinian and Israeli, claim that the goal is the eviction of Arab residents. Often, these usurpations have preceded the expansion of Israeli settlements, considered illegal by the international community. Today, almost 3 million Palestinians live in the territory under Israeli military rule. Over 500,000 Jewish settlers with Israeli citizenship live in more than 130 illegal settlements throughout the West Bank.
Will people like Abu Akleh ever get justice in Israel? Hatred fuelled by injustice continues to nurture new and old grudges, perpetuated from generation to generation. They take the form of the youth, who are the ones holding the coffin – or are the youth the Israeli soldiers, charged to death by nationalist and Zionist propaganda. We are facing a challenge that has been unresolved for over sixty years. Not even this murder has stopped Israel’s fascist arrogance. On Sunday, 29 May, thousands of right-wing ultranationalists marched the March of Flags through the Muslim areas of the Old City of East Jerusalem in an openly provocative event against the Palestinians.
The march celebrates Israel’s seizure of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. Israel considers the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, a position rejected by most countries and the Palestinians who claim it. There were attacks, violence and anti-Arab slogans: ‘Shireen is a whore’, ‘Mohammed is dead’, ‘Death to the Arabs’, ‘May your village burn’, ‘Shuaffat (refugee) camp is on fire’. What excites thousands of right-wing militants is the nationalistic significance that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defence Minister Benny Gantz give to the occasion.
The free trade agreement signed by Israel with the United Arab Emirates in Dubai on 31 May 2022
But there is a more subtle motive behind the murder of an Al Jazeera journalist – because this global TV station is one of the very few independent voices (although owned by the Qatari monarchy) when it comes to the military, political and economic agreement between Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These are the countries that accuse Qatar of supporting Islamic terrorist groups linked to Iran – and the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been the protagonists of the democratic push of the Arab Spring.
A year ago, the Israeli armed forces destroyed the Al Jalaa tower in Gaza city, a tall building where several media outlets are based, including Al Jazeera and the US Associated Press news agency. During the past wars in the Gaza Strip, Al-Jazeera has steadfastly carried stark images of Palestinian women and children killed by Israeli air strikes. Its journalists describe Israel as an occupying force and East Jerusalem as occupied Jerusalem. All of which annoy those in power in Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
The assassination of Abu Akleh takes place almost simultaneously with the death of the UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who is succeeded by his half-brother Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan – a man who leads a realignment of the Middle East in an anti-Iran and anti-religious axis and who invests billions in cyber-warfare and the arming of Arab countries. He is responsible for leading Saudi Arabia to campaign in Yemen and to boycott Qatar, as well as for leading the Sunni world to a new phase of trade relations with Israel. Unique in its kind, a new agreement abolishes customs barriers for 96% of products between the two sides. Annual bilateral trade is estimated to reach USD 10 billion in five years, more than 10 times the figure recorded in 2021. Over a thousand Israeli companies will open in Dubai by the end of this year.
The trade agreement comes two years after the Abraham Agreements, which saw Israel normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. The agreement was strongly desired by the Trump administration and is crucial for contacts between Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Today, the Trump family is working on a large investment by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund Affinity Partners in Israeli start-ups – there is talk of more than $3 billion. Within this framework, the Palestinians have become an annoying hornet’s nest, forgotten by the Arab countries, considered an acceptable bargaining chip for the Sunni monarchies and their allies: in Asia, in Africa, but also in Europe and America. These are epoch-making agreements – who cares about the Gaza Strip?
When Cain is in charge
A Palestinian child challenges the Israeli army: a clash of unequal arms
Wherever there are fratricidal conflicts (in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Kurdistan and the promised land) men, women, children are killed every day: the violence that the human being, renewed Cain, inflicts on his brother Abel. There is room for everyone in this world, but eyes blinded by anger and the desire for revenge do not show what makes the most sense: we witness clashes between groups similar in history and culture, different only in religion. How long will this last? How long will we remain helpless and indifferent to this trail of bloodshed?
The war in Palestine is a war that does not make headlines. The interests at stake, on the part of the United States and Israel, which have always been allied economically and militarily, impose media silence – interrupted from time to time by tragic events that especially affect those who try to tell the truth. Shireen said it, and she died for it: ‘It may not be easy to change reality, but at least I brought the voice of my people to the world’.
 IL GIGANTE TRA GLI HACKER MILITARI COMPRA AVIRA | IBI World Italia ; SE ABU DHABI PENSA DI “PILOTARE” DONALD TRUMP | IBI World Italia ; INFERNO YEMEN: ARMI TEDESCHE PER L’ARABIA, PER AL-QAEDA E PER I MERCENARI AMERICANI | IBI World Italia ; GOLFO PERSICO: LA GUERRA DOPO L’ARMISTIZIO | IBI World Italia ; CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: I CRIMINALI CHE CI CONVINCONO A VOTARE TRUMP | IBI World Italia ; FRATELLO BUONO E FRATELLO CATTIVO: COME LA DINASTIA AL-NAHYAN NASCONDE IL PROPRIO VERO VOLTO | IBI World Italia ; MOHAMMED DAHLAN, SICARIO DEL RE | IBI World Italia
 LA KAFALA ARABA: UNA SCHIAVITÙ PARI A QUELLA DEI NERI NELL’AMERICA SUDISTA | IBI World Italia ; COME EGITTO ED ISRAELE STANNO ANNIENTANDO LA PALESTINA | IBI World Italia ; L’AMICA PARIGINA DEGLI SCEICCHI DEL GOLFO PERSICO | IBI World Italia