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An Al-Jazeera reporter was killed in the West Bank Wednesday, under disputed circumstances, prompting an investigation, officials said.
Shireen Abu Akleh, an American citizen and a well-known reporter in the area, was pronounced dead after she was shot in the head during a news report in the city of Jenin, officials said. She was rushed to a local hospital and died soon after.
The circumstances of her death have been disputed as Palestinian and Israeli officials disagree on who is responsible.
Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, a correspondent in the West Bank, described the death as “a shock to the journalists who have been working with her,” the outlet reported.
“What we know for now is that the Palestinian Health Ministry has announced her death,” Ibrahim added. “Shireen Abu Akleh, was covering the events unfolding in Jenin, specifically an Israeli raid [in] the city, which is north of the occupied West Bank, when she was hit by a bullet to the head.”
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. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Ibrahim also described Abu Akleh as a “very well respected journalist” who has been with the company since 2000.
Another journalist, who is an employee of the Al-Quds newspaper, was also struck by a bullet and was taken to the hospital. The journalist is in stable condition, according to the report.
The two were wearing flak jackets, often worn by members of the press while in war zones, at the time of the incident.
An injured journalist is being hugged by one of the colleagues of killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for the Al-Jazeera network, in the Hospital West Bank town of Jenin, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian authorities swiftly blamed Israel’s military for fatally shooting Abu Akleh, which they claimed was a deliberate act.
Israeli authorities, however, disputed the claim and said Israel’s military came under heavy fire and were attacked with explosives when they returned fire.
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it was possible and even “likely” that Abu Akleh was struck by Palestinians during the initial volley.
“It appears likely that armed Palestinians — who were indiscriminately firing at the time — were responsible,” Bennett said.
Palestinian security forces deploy as demonstrators rally in Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank on July 3, 2021. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images)
Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid has offered to jointly investigate the incident with Palestinian officials, he said on Twitter.
“We have offered the Palestinians a joint pathological investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla,” Lapid tweeted. “Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth. Israel’s security forces will continue to operate wherever necessary to prevent terrorism and the murder of Israelis.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.