Al Jazeera Media Network today submitted the case of Shireen Abu Akleh's killing by Israeli occupation forces to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The 51-year-old Jerusalem native and US citizen was a prominent television correspondent with Al Jazeera for 25 years until her killing by an occupation soldier on 11 May as she covered an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
In its submission to the ICC Prosecutor, Al Jazeera highlighted new witness evidence and video footage which it says show clearly that Abu Akleh and her colleagues were fired at directly by the so-called Israel Defence Forces. The submission includes a dossier of a comprehensive six-month investigation by Al Jazeera that gathers all available eyewitness evidence and video footage, as well as new material on Abu Akleh's killing.
Al Jazeera says that evidence provided by the network disproves the claim by the Israeli authorities that the Palestinian journalist was killed by mistake in an exchange of fire. This claim, it insists, is completely unfounded. The evidence presented to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) confirms that there was no firing in the area where Abu Akleh was reporting from, other than Israeli troops shooting directly at her.
A lawyer acting for Al Jazeera, Rodney Dixon KC, described the killing of Abu Akleh as being part of a wider pattern of Israeli behaviour targeting journalists. "It's not a single incident, it's a killing that is part of a wider pattern that the prosecution should be investigating to identify those who are responsible for the killing, and to bring charges against them," said Dixon at a press conference at The Hague following the submission. "The focus is on Shireen, and this particular killing, this outrageous killing. But the evidence we submit looks at all of the acts against Al Jazeera because it has been targeted as an international media organisation."
Dixon said that there is no reason for the ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan not to open an investigation in the killing of Abu Akleh and issue arrest warrants against Israeli generals and politicians under the doctrine of command responsibility. At its core, the doctrine stipulates that a superior, defined as a military commander or a civilian leader, can be held responsible for war crimes committed by subordinates.
Commenting on the FBI, which has also opened an investigation in the US into Abu Akleh's killing, Dixon explained that an American probe must not be used as an excuse for the prosecutor not to open the ICC's own investigation. He mentioned that the submission complements the complaint sent to the ICC by Abu Akleh's family in September, supported by the Palestinian Press Syndicate and the International Federation of Journalists.
A new documentary by Al Jazeera's Fault Lines team shows how Abu Akleh and other journalists, wearing protective helmets and bulletproof vests marked clearly with the word "PRESS", were walking down a road in view of Israeli forces when they came under fire.
Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid has, predictably, rejected any outside authority investigating Israeli soldiers. "No one will investigate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al Jazeera," Lapid is reported as saying by CNN.