The death of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh brings Israel face to face with its responsibilities as an occupier

These images are grainy, of poor quality, but devastating for the Israeli army. The body of Shireen Abu Akleh lies lifeless at the foot of a tree, Wednesday, May 11, at the entrance to an alley in the Jenin refugee camp. His colleague, the journalist Shaza Hanaysheh, then a young man from the camp, tried to help this figure of the profession in the West Bank, star of the pan-Arab channel Al-Jazeera. Both change their minds several times, fearing shots that snap, punctual, regular, without gusts.

According to Mme Hanaysheh, their group was targeted by Israeli soldiers, while they were carrying out a raid in the Jenin refugee camp (north). “There were no fighters where we were, no (…). They shot at us directly and deliberately”affirms an Al-Jazeera producer, Ali Al-Samodi, who was hit by a bullet without gravity.

The Israeli army then succumbs to its usual failings: it explicitly envisages only one scenario, “the possibility that the journalists were hit by Palestinian gunmen”. On military radio, a spokesman goes so far as to assimilate Mme Abu Akleh to an enemy fighter, who “was filming and working for a media outlet among armed Palestinians. They are armed with cameras, if I may say so. »

Converging charges

The Israeli army, which has been trying since March 22 to stem a wave of attacks that have killed 18 people in Israel, is broadcasting a video shot by Palestinians. A fighter fires into an alley, in hazardous bursts. A man shouts that an Israeli soldier is lying on the ground. This is enough for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office to estimate ” possible ” that this victim is the journalist, the army having regretted that morning no loss. Israeli diplomacy disseminates this reasoning. The government should have known that the GPS coordinates of the images do not match: these shots were filmed some 300 meters away from the place where Shireen Abu Akleh was killed, says the human rights organization B’Tselem.

But at this hour, Mr. Bennett’s office is not concerned with expressing assured truth, which would have required time and humility. What matters is that these images instill doubt. They maintain another version of the facts, which opposes the convergent accusations of the colleagues of Shireen Abu Akleh. It’s a poor lie by omission, with a short fuse, valid for only a few hours.

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