Local Christian leaders didn’t mince words following the killing of veteran reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on May 11 and the chaos at her funeral in Jerusalem two days later. Echoing pointed statements from Al Jazeera (Abu Akleh’s employer) and the Palestinian National Authority blaming Israeli Defense Forces for her death, bishops and patriarchs from various denominations decried the “violent intrusion of the Israeli Police into a funeral procession of the slain journalist” as a “severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental human right of freedom of religion.” This was in bracing contrast to the remarks from now-former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who described the events only as “deeply disturbing.” President Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued little more than vague calls for “investigations.”
What seems clear from videos, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence is that the shooting was no accident. Abu Akleh, who held dual Palestinian and American citizenship and had worked in the region for decades, was reporting on an early-morning incursion by Israeli Defense Forces into a Palestinian refugee camp in the city of Jenin. Her combat helmet and flak jacket—both clearly marked “Press”—did not protect her from a bullet that entered the back of her skull with lethal precision. Her producer, Ali Samoudi, was also wounded in the back. The shots almost certainly came from the IDF, according to independent analyses by different watchdog groups, including Netherlands-based Bellingcat and B’Tselem, an Israeli human-rights group. A third review, conducted by the Associated Press, bolsters their hypotheses.