His employer, Al Jazeera, called his death a “gross murder” by Israeli forces. Three eyewitnesses told CNN that the journalists were shot by Israeli troops and that there were no Palestinian militants in the immediate vicinity of the journalists. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said it was “not yet possible” to determine which direction she was shot from, promising an investigation. Earlier, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed “there is a significant possibility” that she was shot by Palestinian crossfire.
Abu Akleh joined Al Jazeera a year after its creation in 1997, at the age of 26. The channel has become a mainstay of television journalism in the Arab world for its round-the-clock, breaking coverage of pan-Arab issues. It has been controversial in the West and the Middle East for airing interviews with unsavory figures like Osama bin Laden and Arab opposition figures.
But arguably Al Jazeera’s biggest draw for audiences was its coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It raised eyebrows in the Arab world by becoming the first major pan-Arab media outlet to label Israel on a map and give airtime to Israeli officials at a time when the vast majority of Arab nations did not recognize the Jewish state. . But he has also been quick to cover the smallest details of Palestinian suffering, often angering Israel.
Abu Akleh has become the face of this coverage in his country and in the region. She covered the Gaza wars of 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2021 as well as the 2006 war in Lebanon, according to Al Jazeera.
“I will never forget the scale of the destruction or the feeling that death was sometimes near,” Abu Akleh said of his coverage of the 2002 Israeli incursion into the West Bank in a video posted by Al Jazeera in October. .
“We used to sleep in hospitals or under the roofs of people we didn’t know, and despite the danger we were determined to keep reporting,” she said.
Givara Budeiri, a fellow Al Jazeera reporter who had known Abu Akleh for more than two decades, told CNN her friend was a very brave reporter, but had a crippling fear of heights.
“Shireen has never been shy about covering an event,” Budeiri said. “She was never afraid of anything except standing on top of a tall building.”
She recalled Abu Akleh saying that if she hadn’t taken up journalism, her career of choice would be running a stray animal shelter.
Abu Akleh was born in Jerusalem in 1971 to Palestinian Christian parents from Bethlehem, according to Al Jazeera. After graduating, she studied architecture at the University of Science and Technology in Jordan, then turned to journalism studies. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Yarmouk University in Jordan.
Prior to joining Al Jazeera, she worked at Voice of Palestine Radio, Amman Satellite Channel, Miftah Foundation and Radio Monte Carlo in France. She has also worked with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, according to Al Jazeera.
“Every home…inside or outside Palestine mourns Shireen because she is our voice in the world,” said Terry Bullata, a friend and former classmate of Abu Akleh. “She is the voice of our suffering under occupation. She is the voice of our longing for freedom.”
Akleh said she chose journalism to be “close to people”. At the time of her death, she was learning Hebrew to better understand Israeli media accounts, Al Jazeera said.
“In difficult times, I overcame fear,” Abu Akleh said in the October video. “It can be difficult to change reality, but at least I managed to make that voice heard in the world.”
Additional reporting by Abeer Salman in Jerusalem
UAE food delivery workers stage rare strike, second in a month
Foreign food delivery workers from the Talabat company in the United Arab Emirates staged a mass strike on Monday, demanding better wages and working conditions, a rare act of protest in the Gulf state.
- Background: Earlier this month, foreign workers forced another food delivery company to drop plans to cut wages after walking off the job in protest. On Monday, Talabat workers refused to take deliveries in the capital Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A spokesman for Talabat said that until last week, 70% of drivers were unhappy with their salary, earning them an average of 3,500 dirhams ($953) per month.
- why is it important: The industrial action is the second of its kind in a month, a rare manifestation of public discontent in the United Arab Emirates where workers are tightly controlled. The country is also home to two cities with a strong presence of expats. Unions and collective actions are prohibited in the country.
Biden plans visit to East Jerusalem – Israeli official
US President Joe Biden plans to visit East Jerusalem during an upcoming visit to Israel in June, an Israeli official told CNN on Monday.
- Background: Biden may visit Al Makassed Hospital, although plans are not yet finalized, the Israeli official added. The East Jerusalem Hospital serves Palestinians, including those in the West Bank and Gaza. Former President Donald Trump cut $25 million in planned funding for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, which included Al Makassed Hospital.
- why is it important: A US presidential visit to the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of the city, which was captured by Israel in 1967, would likely be seen as a gesture of support for the Palestinians. The Biden administration has pledged to reopen a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem, after Trump closed it and moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. For many Palestinians, a US consulate in Jerusalem would be seen as a precursor to what they hope will one day be a US embassy in East Jerusalem, capital of a potential future state of Palestine.
EU’s Mora visits Tehran to save nuclear deal
Iran’s European Union nuclear coordinator said on Tuesday he was traveling to Tehran to meet Iranian negotiator Bagheri Kani in an attempt to build momentum to salvage the 2015 deal.
- Background: Talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers have been suspended since March, mainly due to Tehran’s insistence that Washington withdraw the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its security force elite, from the list of American Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
- why is it important: The visit comes amid increased diplomatic activity to salvage the talks. Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad will visit Iran this week to try to restart the stalled talks. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday he still hoped for a deal, but the talks were in trouble and the moment could be lost. He said he had also warned Iran that the country was not being transparent enough about its nuclear activities.
Around the region
Jordan’s criminalization of some cases of attempted suicide has sparked outrage among mental health advocates.
The Middle Eastern nation’s lower house of parliament late last month amended a law punishing anyone who attempts suicide in a public space with up to six months in prison or jail. a fine of up to 100 Jordanian dinars ($141), or both. The penalty is doubled in the event of a collective suicide attempt.
For the law to enter into force, it must be adopted by the Senate and finally by the King.
Previously, only those who assisted in suicide were punished.
Public reactions have been a mix of shock, confusion and anger on social media. One of them described this decision as a “massacre of laws”.
The government defended this decision. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Bishr Al-Khasawneh said it confirmed “the idea of protecting the right to life”, citing religious texts. He also downplayed most suicide cases as “minor” and said they were “attention seeking”.
In response to the law change, the online therapy platform “Arab Therapy” offered free consultations to anyone with suicidal thoughts. The platform told CNN it has since received more than 200 consultation requests.
“Decisions like this do not help people who are thinking about suicide, but only confirm their loss of hope,” founder Tareq Dalbah, a Jordanian doctor living in Germany, told CNN.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement, Dalbah said all suicide attempts should be taken seriously, regardless of the context. He pointed out that confusion over how this law will be implemented causes people with suicidal thoughts to avoid seeking help for fear of punishment.
The number of suicides stood at 186 last year, a 60 percent increase from 2019, according to data provided to CNN by the Jordanian Department of Statistics. Dalbah said health insurance rarely covers mental health in the country.
By Mohamed Abdelbary
How to get help: In the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide can also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.
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