Journalists and medics wheel the body of Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera network, into the morgue inside the Hospital in the West Bank town of Jenin, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The well-known Palestinian reporter for the broadcaster’s Arabic language channel was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said. (AP Photo)

JERUSALEM (AP) — A female journalist for Al Jazeera was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday. The broadcaster and a reporter who was wounded in the incident blamed Israeli forces, while Israel claimed there was evidence the two were hit by Palestinian gunfire.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian reporter for the broadcaster’s Arabic language channel who is also a U.S. citizen, was shot and died soon afterward. Ali Samoudi, another Palestinian journalist, was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in the back.

The Qatar-based network interrupted its broadcast to announce her death. In a statement flashed on its channel, it called on the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague.”

“We pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice,” Al Jazeera said.

The Israeli military said its forces came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. The military said it was investigating “and looking into the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”BUSINESSUS inflation hit 8.3% last month but slows from 40-year highEU lifts mask requirement for air travel as pandemic ebbsUK ramps up threat to rewrite Brexit deal with the EUUS casinos had best month ever in March, winning $5.3B

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that based on the information they had already gathered, “there is a considerable chance that armed Palestinians, who fired wildly, were the ones who brought about the journalist’s unfortunate death.”

Israeli officials pointed to video footage in which Palestinian gunmen can be seen racing through a narrow street, one of them shouting that a soldier has been wounded. The officials say no Israelis were hurt in the incident, indicating the gunmen shot a journalist instead.

A separate video aired by Al Jazeera shows Abu Akleh lying motionless on the side of a road next to a wall as another journalist crouches nearby and a man screams for an ambulance. Gunfire rings out in the background. Both reporters were wearing blue flak jackets clearly marked with the word “PRESS.”

It was unclear if the two videos were shot at the same location, and neither one showed the source of the gunfire.

Israel said it had proposed a joint investigation and autopsy with the Palestinian Authority, which refused the offer.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security matters, condemned what it said was a “shocking crime” committed by Israeli forces.

Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem. She began working for Al Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported from across the Palestinian territories.

Samoudi, who was working as her producer, told The Associated Press they were among a group of seven reporters who went to cover the raid early Wednesday. He said they were all wearing protective gear that clearly marked them as reporters, and they passed by Israeli troops so the soldiers would know that they were there.

He said a first shot missed them, then a second struck him, and a third killed Abu Akleh. He said there were no militants or other civilians in the area — only the reporters and the army. He said the military’s suggestion that they were shot by militants was a “complete lie.”

Shaza Hanaysheh, another Palestinian journalist among the reporters, similar account in an interview with Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel, saying there were no clashes or shooting in the immediate area.

She said that when the shots rang out she and Abu Akleh ran toward a tree to take shelter.

“I reached the tree before Shireen. She fell on the ground,” Hanaysheh said. “Every time I extended my hand toward Shireen, the soldiers fired at us.”

Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, told army radio that the two journalists were “armed with cameras” and standing near Palestinian gunmen. He said the militants were “unprofessional people, terrorists, who were shooting at our troops” and likely hit the reporters instead.

Israel has carried out near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks amid a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, many of them carried out by Palestinians from Jenin. The town, and particularly its refugee camp, has long been known as a militant bastion.

Hundreds of Palestinians, including several masked gunmen, marched through Jenin in a funeral procession, carrying Abu Akleh’s body draped with a Palestinian flag and a blue press vest. Her body was to be taken to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, before burial in Jerusalem.

In this undated photo provided by Al Jazeera Media Network, Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera network, stands in an area where the Dome of the Rock shrine at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem is seen at right in the background. Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian female reporter for the broadcaster’s Arabic language channel, was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (Al Jazeera Media Network via AP)

Condolences poured in from across the Arab world, where the veteran journalist was well-known for her coverage of the Palestinians.

Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera, condemned the killing “in the strongest terms,” calling it a “flagrant violation of international humanitarian law” and a “blatant attack on media freedom.”

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, tweeted that he was “very sad” to learn of Abu Akleh’s death and called for a “thorough investigation.” He also confirmed she was an American citizen.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, called the shooting “a heinous crime, and a flagrant attack on press freedom whose perpetrators must be held accountable.”

In a separate incident on Wednesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said an 18-year-old, identified as Thair al-Yazouri, was shot and killed by Israeli forces near Ramallah. The military said Palestinians were hurling rocks at an army post near a West Bank settlement and that soldiers had responded with rubber bullets. The bullets are meant to be nonlethal but can be deadly.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want the territory to form the main part of their future state. Nearly 3 million Palestinians live in the territory under Israeli military rule. Israel has built more than 130 settlements across the West Bank that are home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers, who have full Israeli citizenship.

Israelis have long been critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage, but authorities generally allow its journalists to operate freely. Another Al Jazeera reporter, Givara Budeiri, was briefly detained last year during a protest in Jerusalem and treated for a broken hand, which her employer blamed on rough treatment by police.

Journalists surround the body of Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera network, into the morgue inside the Hospital in the West Bank town of Jenin, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The well-known Palestinian reporter for the broadcaster’s Arabic language channel was shot and killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said. (AP Photo)

Relations between Israeli forces and the media, especially Palestinian journalists, are strained. A number of Palestinian reporters have been wounded by rubber-coated bullets or tear gas while covering demonstrations in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Two Palestinian journalists were shot and killed by Israeli forces while filming violent protests along the Gaza frontier in 2018.

In November of that year, AP cameraman Rashed Rashid was covering a protest near the Gaza frontier when he was shot in the left ankle, apparently by Israeli fire. He was wearing protective gear that clearly identified him as a journalist, and was standing with other journalists some 600 meters (660 yards) away from the Israeli border when he was hit. The military has never acknowledged the shooting.

During last year’s war between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, an Israeli airstrike destroyed the building in Gaza City housing the offices of The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Residents were warned to evacuate and no one was hurt in the strike. Israel said Hamas was using the building as a command center but has provided no evidence.

___

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On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0003

A close-up of a heliport under construction in Rutog County.

0001

On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0004

Construction crews are now scattered around Ladakh as Indian authorities speed up their infrastructure race with China.

0005

An overview of a heliport under construction near Aksai Chin Lake, in a region administered by China but contested by India, on May 28.

0002

An overview of a heliport under construction in Rutog County in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on Nov. 28.

0003 0001 0004 0005 0002

BEIJING’S ISLAND-BUILDING IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

Runway

Runway

China is expanding the construction of its facilities on Fiery Cross Reef. Provided by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), this June 28, 2015 photo reveals Beijing has nearly completed a 3,000 meter (9,800-foot) airstrip, long enough to accommodate most Chinese military aircraft. Two h...

Expansion

Expansion

Reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef, which lies on the west side of the Spratly Islands, began in August of 2014 and its principal landmass was finished by November. Dredgers have created a land mass that spans the entire existing reef and is approximately 3,000 meters long and 200-300 meters wide.

Facilities

Facilities

This picture taken last November shows construction work being carried out on Fiery Cross Reef. The reef reportedly already houses a helicopter landing pad, a 300-meter-long wharf, a harbor large enough to dock military tankers, barracks and artillery emplacements.

South Johnson Reef

South Johnson Reef

This reef was one of the first facilities to finish principal land reclamation. This recent picture shows that a radar tower is nearing completion at the north end of the land mass. According to AMTI, a new large multi-level military facility has been built in the center of the island. Up to six sur...

A naval base?

A naval base?

Beginning in early 2015, Mischief Reef - also located in the Spratlys - has undergone extensive reclamation activity. Experts say that the recent widening of the southern entrance to the reef, coupled with sightings of Chinese navy vessels, may suggest a future role for the reclaimed reef as a naval...

From reef to island

From reef to island

Significant construction on Gaven Reef began in 2014, with a total of 114,000 square meters of land already created. Satellite pictures show just how fast construction has progressed on the reef. A new artificial island was created between March (left) and August (right) 2014.

Troop garrison

Troop garrison

According to AMTI, China has had a troop garrison on Gaven Reef since 2003, which has included a large supply platform where ships can dock. Experts say a new main square building in the reef appears to be an anti-aircraft tower.

A standardized process

A standardized process

As seen in this image, the basic process of expanding these features involves dredging sand from the seafloor and dumping it onto the reefs. The structure is raised above the high water line, hiding the status of the bank or reef beneath. The sand is then smoothed out and workers surround the island...

'Historic rights'

'Historic rights'

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich waterway, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The US Pacific Fleet commander recently said China was "creating a great wall of sand" in the South China Sea, causing serious concerns about its territorial intentions. Beijin...

Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims, which have led to territorial disputes in the area. Last summer, China's deployment of a massive oil rig in waters also claimed by Hanoi escalated tensions in the region, sparking a standoff at sea and violent anti-C...

US concerns

US concerns

Washington is concerned China's efforts carry a military dimension that could undermine the US' naval and economic power in the Pacific, and has weighed sending warships and surveillance aircraft within 12 nautical miles of the new artificial islands. Washington has repeatedly called on Beijing and ...

Ecological impact

Ecological impact

The Philippines filed a formal plea at the UN last year, challenging Beijing's territorial claims. Manila said China's reclamation activities are causing "irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea." It also claimed that the destruction of co...

Runway Expansion Facilities South Johnson Reef A naval base? From reef to island Troop garrison A standardized process 'Historic rights' Territorial disputes US concerns Ecological impact

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