The International Federation of Journalists will be a partner in a lawsuit against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli sniper, Wafa news agency has reported.
"Palestinian journalists are fighters who face on a daily basis the aggression of the occupation in all fields as well as the main project of the occupation to expel the Palestinians from their land," Ali Youssef, a member of the federation's executive board, told Wafa. He added that the IFJ has succeeded in exposing Israel's acts of aggression against media professionals and the Palestinian people.
Palestinians argue that the Israeli military deliberately targeted and killed Abu Akleh. Israel denies this, claiming that she may have been hit by errant army fire or by a bullet from one of the Palestinian gunmen who were clashing with its forces at the scene. According to eyewitnesses, however, there was no such clash at the time that the journalist was killed.
The ICC recognised in a February 2021 ruling that it has jurisdiction over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This has paved the way for cases to be brought against Israel over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Last month, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki handed the ICC prosecutor the official outcome of the Palestinian investigation into the murder of Abu Akleh. He noted that it constitutes a turning point in the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.
During the meeting with ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan, Maliki demanded that the criminals responsible for targeting civilians, children, women, journalists, doctors and other protected groups be brought to international justice.
Moreover, a video message by Nasser Abu Bakr, President of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, urged Prosecutor Khan to hold Israel to account. "Fifty Palestinian journalists have been killed since 2000 alone," he explained. "Seven thousand crimes against Palestinian journalists have been documented."
READ: US forensic experts examine bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist in Jerusalem
A detailed account of Abu Akleh's killing was given by her colleague, Walid Al-Omari. "Why would they target Shireen?" asked Al Jazeera's Jerusalem Bureau Chief. He suggested that Israel was seeking to inflict a direct and powerful blow against the network. By killing Abu Akleh, he suggested, the colonial-occupation state hoped to silence one of the most powerful voices in the Arab world.
Al Jazeera described Abu Akleh's killing as a "blatant murder" that violates "international laws and norms". In its statement following her murder, the network pointed out that according to Article 8 of the ICC Charter, "Targeting war correspondents, or journalists working in war zones or occupied territories by killing or physically assaulting them, is a war crime."