Israel’s military has apologised for its killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, after a year of denial of its responsibility for the shooting.
Shireen Abu Akleh, the correspondent who covered the West Bank for Al Jazeera for two decades, was shot in the back of the head while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin last May.
Occupation forces initially insisted that she was merely caught in the crossfire and shot by Palestinian resistance fighters, but Israel later acknowledged after an investigation that Abu Akleh was likely killed by a member of its military, but claimed that it was unintentional.
Now, in an interview with CNN and its anchor Eleni Giokos on Thursday, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari has issued an apology for the journalist’s killing. “I think it’s an opportunity for me to say here that we are very sorry of the death of Shireen Abu Akleh”, he said.
“She was a journalist, a very established journalist. In Israel we value our democracy and in a democracy we see high value in journalism and in a free press”, Hagari claimed. “We want journalists to feel safe in Israel, especially in war time, even if they criticise us.”
The apology comes just days after the press watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), published a report on the first anniversary of Abu Akleh’s killing, revealing that the Israeli military has killed 20 journalists since 2001 and has not taken accountability for any of those incidents.
Despite Tel Aviv’s acknowledgement of its role in Abu Akleh’s killing and its apology, there remains little hope for the arrest and prosecution of those soldiers who were responsible for the shooting, with the Israeli military notoriously maintaining immunity from such legal consequences.
As Naftali Bennett – the country’s prime minister at the time of the killing – said last week, Israeli soldiers should not be prosecuted when civilians are not killed deliberately. “If there’s a battle going on and there’s collateral damage that is not deliberate, then no. Otherwise, what you would do is shackle all the hands of fighters”.