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Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
August 2023

In the death of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot  
dead during an Israeli army raid in the West Bank, most likely, most observers  
believe, by an Israeli soldier, no one has been charged or otherwise held  
According to Washington Post (May 10, 2023) correspondent Steve Hendrix, “No one  
is likely to be charged, according to a new analysis of the killings of  
journalists covering Israel and the West Bank over the past two decades. Despite  
the international uproar it provoked, Abu Akleh’s slaying has settled into a case  
study of Israel’s ability to sidestep accountability.”  
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) focused on the cases of  
20 reporters whose deaths it attributed to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) since  
2001. No one has been charged or held accountable in any of them. The report  
said Israel responded to the incidents by preemptively denying responsibility,  
discounting contrary evidence and eyewitness testimony, and carrying out opaque  
internal investigations that never led to charges.  
“The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh illustrated everything that is wrong with the  
process,” said Robert Mahoney, the CPJ’s di-rector of special projects and one of  
the report’s editors, “starting with misleading or false narratives put out  
immediately that were slowly walked back until we reached the point five months  
later when the results of the IDF’s internal probe said there was a high  
probability that IDF forces accidentally shot Shireen.”  
The report’s authors looked at more than two dozen cases of journalists killed  
while reporting in the West Bank and the Ga-za Strip in recent decades. Most of  
the reporters killed —-at least 13 according to the report—-were clearly  
identified as journalists.  
A Reuters camera operator, Fadel Shama, was wearing standard blue body armor  
marked “PRESS” and standing beside a car marked “TV” when he was struck by an  
Israeli tank projectile in Gaza in 2008, according to an account in the report.  
Abu Akleh and her experienced crew were attired in the same sort of marked  
protective gear when they were fired on. The surviving crew members told the  
Washington Post they had been making an effort, as always, to remain away from  
danger and make themselves obvious and unthreatening to the IDF forces in sight.  
“Over the following four months,” The Post reported, “Israel’s position shifted  
as evidence mounted contradicting its initial claims. In September—-after a  
ballistic analysis by the U.S. and video forensic revues by multiple news  
organizations…the IDF acknowledged that there was a ‘high probability’ the bullet  
was fired by one of its soldiers.”  
According to The Post, “All but two of the 20 journalists whose fatalities are  
reviewed in the report were Palestinians. More than foreign reporters —-who come  
with the backing of international news organizations and, implicitly, their  
national embassies—-local reporters often work without support in a hostile and  
unpredictable environment. Many say conditions are worse than ever, even those  
who covered the bloodiest periods of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”  
Ahmad Mashal, a Jerusalem-based producer for almost thirty years, told The Post  
that, “What’s scary now is that you can be killed for no reason….The army, the  
police, the settlers, they all have a green light to do whatever they want. I’m  
scared to even put my hand in my pocket at a checkpoint.” **

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