A pioneering Palestinian reporter

Shireen Abu Akleh
(Photo: Jordan News)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Shireen Abu Akleh, was among Arab media’s most prominent figures and widely hailed for her bravery and professionalism.

In the hours after her death, young Palestinians described Abu Akleh, 51, as an inspiration, especially to women, many of whom were motivated to pursue journalism because of her.اضافة اعلان

“She never tired,” Al Jazeera senior international correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid told AFP by phone from Ukraine. “She was always there whenever anything happened. ... She wanted to be there, to tell the story, constantly,” she added.

In an interview shortly before her death, Abu Akleh, who was also a US citizen, described herself as a “product of Jerusalem”, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shaping much of her life.

She was born in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem to a Palestinian Christian family. Her mother was born in West Jerusalem, before the creation of Israel in 1948, and her father was from Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

She graduated from university the year the Oslo peace accords were signed and then joined the nascent Voice of Palestine radio, before switching to Al Jazeera in 1997, where she went on to become an iconic personality in Arab media.

Journalist Muhammad Daraghmeh, a close friend who teaches at Birzeit University in the West Bank, said Abu Akleh was “one of the strongest journalists in the Arab world”.

Her prominence grew through her coverage of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, from 2000 to 2005.

Al Jazeera’s newsdesk told Shireen Abu Akleh they would keep a spot for her “at the top of the hour” after she said in an email she was going to cover an Israeli operation in the Palestinian town of Jenin.

“But she never turned up,” said Mohamed Moawad, the Arabic channel’s head of output regarding the final contacts with the veteran journalist on a typically risky mission.

“The last communication was 20 minutes before this heinous crime happened,” Moawad told AFP shortly after staff held their own broadcast tribute to the 51-year-old.

Moawad said another journalist soon sent a message informing them she had died 3km from the edge of Jenin in the West Bank.

“We consider this something intentional because the bullet hit exactly the area below her ear where there is no cover,” said Moawad, who added that “reckless” comments had been made in Israel about the killing.

Abu Akleh — the second journalist hired by Al Jazeera in the Palestinian territories — became the 12th journalist from the channel to be killed on duty since it started broadcasting.

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