DELIVERED BY Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
More than six weeks after the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and injury of her colleague Ali Sammoudi in Jenin on 11 May 2022, it is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.
We at the UN Human Rights Office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident. All information we have gathered – including official information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian Attorney-General – is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities. We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists.
In accordance with our global human rights monitoring methodology, our Office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.
According to our findings, on 11 May 2022, soon after 06h00, seven journalists, including Shireen Abu Akleh, arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank to cover an ongoing arrest operation by Israeli Security Forces and the ensuing clashes. The journalists said they chose a side street for their approach to avoid the location of armed Palestinians inside the camp and that they proceeded slowly in order to make their presence visible to the Israeli forces deployed down the street. Our findings indicate that no warnings were issued and no shooting was taking place at that time and at that location.
At around 06h30, as four of the journalists turned into the street leading to the camp, wearing bulletproof helmets and flak jackets with “PRESS” markings, several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli Security Forces. One single bullet injured Ali Sammoudi in the shoulder, another single bullet hit Abu Akleh in the head and killed her instantly. Several further single bullets were fired as an unarmed man attempted to approach Abu Akleh’s body and another uninjured journalist sheltering behind a tree. Shots continued to be fired as this individual eventually managed to carry away Abu Akleh’s body.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet continues to urge Israeli authorities to open a criminal investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing and into all other killings and serious injuries by Israeli forces in the West Bank and in the context of law enforcement operations in Gaza. Since just the beginning of the year, our Office has verified that Israeli Security Forces have killed 58 Palestinians in the West Bank, including 13 children.
International human rights law requires prompt, thorough, transparent, independent and impartial investigation into all use of force resulting in death or serious injury. Perpetrators must be held to account.