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Shireen Abu Akleh: Arab journalists remember iconic Palestinian reporter

The famous Al Jazeera correspondent hailed as a trailblazer and 'voice of Palestinians' after shocking death in West Bank
Palestinians hold pictures of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by Israeli army gunfire during an Israeli raid, according to the Qatar-based news channel, in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank 11 May 2022 (Reuters)
Palestinians hold pictures of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by Israeli army gunfire during an Israeli raid, according to the Qatar-based news channel, in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 11 May 2022 (Reuters)

The killing of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli bullet on Wednesday morning in the occupied West Bank has provoked an outpouring of grief and anger among media workers in the Arab world.

Abu Akleh, 51, was shot in the head during her coverage of an army raid in Jenin refugee camp and was transferred to Ibn Sina hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Many journalists took to social media after the news of the shocking killing came out to express their condolences with female Arab journalists in particular citing Abu Akleh's reporting, such as on the Second Intifada in 2000, as an inspiration for their own careers.

'You couldn’t watch her and not listen, not be captivated. You couldn’t watch her and not learn'

- Rawya Rageh, former Al Jazeera journalist

Rawya Rageh - a former Al Jazeera journalist and current Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International - said Abu Akleh was an "icon" and "the voice of Palestinians".

For her part, Kholoud Assaf, head of the women journalists committee at the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, described Abu Akleh as "an inspiration in Palestine and the Arab world".

"Today we lost one of the pillars of our press," she told MEE.

Much of the anger from Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists on social media revolved around the use of the passive in a number of headlines reporting on Akleh’s death, as well as including the Israeli suggestion that she may have died from Palestinian bullets.

Although Al-Jazeera stated outright that an Israeli gunman killed their reporter, the New York Times and Associated Press initially refrained from attributing blame to anyone, implying she had been killed as a result of crossfire.

A number of people criticised this approach, contrasting it with what they said was more forthright reporting on the war in Ukraine.

"For weeks, US media has dismissed Russia’s propaganda in Ukraine by recognising that occupiers and aggressors have an incentive to lie," tweeted political analyst Omar Baddar.

"To now indulge Israel's propaganda in reporting on Shireen's killing is itself a crime against journalism."