TV network Al Jazeera submitted the case of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday 6 December, saying she was killed by Israeli forces. The Qatar-based channel said it had “unearthed new evidence” on the death of the Palestinian-American. Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera reporter, was shot in the head while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on 11 May.
Shireen Abu Akleh wasn’t killed by mistake
Al Jazeera said its submission highlighted:
new witness evidence and video footage (that) clearly show that Shireen and her colleagues were directly fired at by the Israeli Occupation Forces.
The claim by the Israeli authorities that Shireen was killed by mistake in an exchange of fire is completely unfounded
Any person or group can file a complaint to the ICC prosecutor for investigation, but the Hague-based court is under no obligation to take on such cases. After receiving complaints from individuals or groups, the ICC prosecutor decides independently what cases to submit to judges at the court. Judges decide whether to allow a preliminary investigation by the prosecutor, which can then be followed by a formal investigation, and if warranted, charges. In the majority of cases such complaints do not lead to investigations, according to the ICC.
“No-one will investigate IDF soldiers”
The Israeli army conceded on 5 September that one of its soldiers had likely shot Abu Akleh after mistaking her for a militant. However, Israel said it would not cooperate with any external probe into Abu Akleh’s death.
Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid said in a statement:
No one will investigate IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al Jazeera
The ICC last year launched a probe into war crimes in the Palestinian territories, but Israel is not an ICC member, and disputes the court’s jurisdiction.
Systematic campaign of violence
Abu Akleh was wearing a bulletproof vest marked “Press” and a helmet when she was shot in the head at the Jenin refugee camp. As the Canary previously reported, an IDF sniper shot the veteran journalist as she was exiting a vehicle at the camp. Abu Akleh is the most recent of nearly 50 Palestinian journalists killed by Israel’s military. The IDF later attacked mourners at Abu Akleh’s funeral.
Lina Abu Akleh, the reporter’s niece, told a press conference:
The evidence is overwhelmingly clear, we expect the ICC to take action
My family still doesn’t know who fired that deadly bullet and who was in the chain of command that killed my aunt.
Lawyer Rodney Dixon said there had been a “complete cover-up” by Israel over Abu Akleh’s death. He alleged that her killing was part of a “systematic and widespread campaign” against Al Jazeera by Israel that also included the bombing of a Gaza building housing Al Jazeera‘s office last year.
“There’s a clear attempt to shut Al Jazeera down and silence it,” Dixon told the press conference:
We are hopeful that there will now be justice for Shireen.
Dixon said they had not yet had a formal meeting with the prosecutor’s office, but had handed over evidence including some on memory sticks to the ICC’s evidence unit.
Featured image via Al Jazeera English/YouTube
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
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