Pain and grief in Jerusalem for Christian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem expresses “shock” over her death, calling for an urgent and thorough investigation. Latin Patriarch Pizzaballa sends a message and offers prayers to the family. Israelis and Palestinians blame each other. For Sabella, she was “always the professional and even-handed”.
The 51-year-old Palestinian Christian journalist was covering the “Israeli army’s storming of [a] Jenin camp (northern West Bank) on Wednesday”, when she was “killed by the Israeli army”, this “according to eyewitnesses”. One of her colleagues “was also injured while performing his duty,” the statement goes on to say.
In light of the situation, “We ask for a thorough and urgent investigation of all the circumstances of her killing and for bringing those responsible to justice,” it adds.
“This blatant tragedy” highlights “the need to find a just solution to the Palestinian conflict”. In the meantime, “We pray for the rest of Shireen's soul, who was an example of duty and a strong voice for her people”.
Prof Bernard Sabella, a former Fatah representative and current executive secretary of the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches, is one of the people who knew the journalist and her work.
“There is great sadness and grief,” he told AsiaNews. “Everyone feels deep sorrow over the death of the much appreciated and respected journalist, always the professional and even-handed, whom I met on several occasions and knew personally.”
A member of the Greek-Catholic community, she lectured on media and journalism at various universities. Through “her work she exemplified the Christian message” in the Holy Land and knew how to “be part of society”.
Her funeral, the Christian leader noted, is set for tomorrow at 3 pm (local time) at the Greek Catholic church near Jaffa Gate, followed by burial in the Christian cemetery on Mount Zion.
Many fear that the service could spark violence with widespread anger among Palestinians; however, for Bernard Sabella, the “situation is calming down, even if it would be expected and normal, especially among young people, to show emotions. At present, they are doing this by waving flags with the Israeli police trying to disperse them.
“I think that tomorrow, amid great participation in the funeral, flags will be everywhere. Hopefully, no one will be hurt or there will be no clashes. We need calm and dialogue.”
The Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa also spoke about the tragic story, which feeds Palestinian resentment with, in the background, recent violent incidents and tensions. The funeral service and burial could spark more violence.
In a message to the family, the patriarch says that it was “with great sadness” that he heard the news of the journalist’s “cruel death”, killed covering "the daily sufferings of the people of this land” while trying to provide another perspective to a complex conflict and forms of injustice that tear apart the peoples of the same land.
Addressing her family, acquaintances and friends, Patriarch Pizzaballa offers the condolences and prayers of “all the bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, consecrated persons and believers of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem”
Shireen Abu Akleh was killed yesterday morning during an Israeli army operation in Jenin. Her death was unanimously condemned by various international figures, as well as Palestinian leaders and activists.
The Israeli government and Palestinian authorities have blamed each other for her death, but a preliminary examination of the event suggests that she died from a bullet fired, perhaps intentionally, by a member of the Israeli special forces involved in the operation.
For al Jazeera, the journalist, who had worked for the Qatar-based satellite TV channel since 1997, was “assassinated in cold blood” by “the Israeli occupation forces”.
The Christian journalist had a long career behind her, with 20 years of even-handed coverage of the Palestinian conflict.
Born in 1971 in East Jerusalem, Shireen Abu Akleh was first drawn to architecture, but then switched to journalism, graduating with a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Yarmouk University in Jordan.
Her family is originally from Bethlehem, but she was born and raised in Jerusalem where she completed her secondary education at the Rosary Sisters School in Beit Hanina.
After university, she returned to Palestine and worked for different employers, including UNRWA, Voice of Palestine Radio, Amman Satellite Channel, Miftah Foundation, and Radio Monte Carlo.
[*] Also spelled Shereen Abu Aqleh.