The real story in Palestine

Osama al sharif
Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. (File photo: Jordan News)
Two weeks after the cold-blooded murder of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, her killers remain at large. Since her killing, which was caught on camera for the whole world to see, at least two Palestinian youths have been murdered by the Israeli occupation forces. In fact, in Jenin only, 20 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since the beginning of 2022; 42 in the last two years.اضافة اعلان

So far Israel has refused to launch an inquiry into Abu Akleh’s death, which the Palestinians and many eye witnesses blame Israel for. The UN, the EU, the US and many international organizations like Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders have all called for transparent and thorough probe into the killing of the 51-year-old American citizen. Israel is coming under pressure to investigate the death and allow others to look into her murder. But right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is unrelenting even as his shaky coalition is about to be voted out of power.

But despite the global unprecedented backlash triggered by the tragic death of Abu Akleh, one should still underline the fact that, once more, the West is applying double standards when dealing with anything that has to do with Israel and its decades-long brutal occupation of Palestine.

Immediately following the gunning down of Abu Akleh, many mainstream Western media outlets obfuscated the facts by choosing neutral words when reporting the crime. The New York Times shamefully wrote: Abu Akleh “dies at the age of 51”, while others ignored the fact that the only armed force in the area were Israeli soldiers.

During her funeral, heavily armed Israeli police stormed the hospital from where her coffin was to be taken to the cemetery and attacked the pallbearers and mourners on live TV. The hesitant Western media talked about “violence” and “clashes” erupting at the funeral. Again, there was no pointing the finger at Israel and its brutal treatment of Palestinians under occupation.

And even then, and as politicians and international organizations condemned the killing and the attack on the mourners, few dared speak about the larger picture: that in effect it is not the killing of Abu Akleh that was the principal issue, but the unconscionable Israeli occupation.

Abu Akleh was not the first journalist to be killed by Israeli occupation forces in the last two decades. According to independent figures, more than 50 journalists, the majority Palestinians, have been gunned down by Israeli soldiers since 2000. And, like Abu Akleh’s documented murder, there is plenty of evidence implicating Israel in almost all of these deliberate killings. In a handful of cases Israel promised to carry out an investigation, and in almost all of them there was no culpability.

Abu Akleh was a high-profile journalist, a household name for millions, and an American citizen. Her murder shocked the world and elicited an unexpected backlash. She had covered the occupied territories for almost 25 years and in the process reported on tens of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, the majority unarmed civilians, by Israel. Not once had the West moved to push for independent probes or to hold Israel responsible. Never mind the fact that the occupation of the West Bank is entirely illegal under international law.

Less than two weeks after Abu Akleh was killed, Israeli forces stormed the Jenin refugee camp for the umpteenth time. On May 21, and in a morning raid, they killed 17-year-old Amajd Al-Fayyed, who was reportedly shot 12 times. No one in the West is going to condemn his murder or call for a probe. His wanton death was not going to be reported by the Western mainstream media either. He is just a number in a never ending register of Palestinian casualties who perished in “clashes”.

No one in the Western media is going to write a human interest story about who Amjad was, what he dreamt of, or how his bereaved mother and siblings feel. No one is going to ask why he was killed and if his killers are ever going to face justice.
The story is about Israel that it is above the law, not held to account for its breaches of international laws and conventions, and continuing to carry out crimes with impunity.
The killing of Abu Akleh has embarrassed Israel, if only for a fleeting moment. If worse comes to worst, and if the US puts pressure on Israel, an internal probe may be conducted and the final report will come up with flimsy excuses for her death. That will be that.

But the real story is not about Abu Akleh. She never thought that she would be the news. Her life was dedicated to covering the plight of her people. That remains the story — the only unfolding story.

In Israel itself, voices were heard saying that Israel lost the battle for public opinion. It was being lambasted not in the mainstream media but on social media platforms. Millions, from all over the world, told the story as it really is, about a brutal occupation that has dehumanized the Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, in every way.

The story is about Israel that it is above the law, not held to account for its breaches of international laws and conventions, and continuing to carry out crimes with impunity.

In a few weeks’ time the uproar over Abu Akleh’s killing will die down. But the reality for the Palestinians will not change. Hundreds of Abu Aklehs will be killed and injured, as has been the case for decades. And again the West will look the other way. Israel knows this and, sadly, it is right to believe so.

The writer is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. The article was first published by

Read more Opinion and Analysis
Jordan News