“Local media is dying” is not a metaphor for Palestinians. On May 11, Israeli soldiers killed Palestinian American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. She was reporting on a raid of the West Bank city of Jenin by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Viral videos of Abu Akleh lying dead while fellow journalists avoid continuous gunshots from Israeli forces swept across the internet two weeks ago, sparking outrage and, unsurprisingly, Israeli justifications.
Bissan Barghouti is an organizer with End the Deadly Exchange Seattle, a local coalition working to demilitarize the police, and Falastiniyat, a Palestinian feminist collective. She spoke about Abu Akleh’s power within Palestinian communities.
“As one of the most credible journalists to ever cover Palestine, she was a communicator of Palestinian truth, pain and grief for decades,” Barghouti said.
According to the Associated Press, Abu Akleh and a team of other journalists arrived in the city of Jenin early on the morning of May 11. The journalists watched from several hundred feet away as Israeli forces raided a Palestinian home. With the sound of gunshot pops, the group took cover, but Abu Akleh appeared to already be hit.
Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest when she was killed. Ali al-Samoudi, her producer — who was also hit in the shoulder — said Israeli forces shot them.
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” al-Samoudi said to Al Jazeera. Al-Samoudi and other journalists at the scene said there were no Palestinian fighters present when they were shot.
Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of “deliberately targeting and killing our colleague.”
To the state of Israel, Abu Akleh’s journalism was a direct threat to their ongoing mission of Palestinian displacement. Israeli military spokesperson Ran Kochav compared Abu Akleh’s work to violence. Kochav said to an Israeli newspaper that “they’re armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.”
“Her assassination was a clear message that the state of Israel will go to any length necessary to silence Palestinian people even if it means a bullet to the head of one of the most beloved Palestinian journalists to have ever lived,” Barghouti said.
A United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council commission said in a 2019 report that it “found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot journalists intentionally, despite seeing that they were clearly marked as such” during the 2018 protests along the border of the Gaza Strip and Israel. According to the Palestinian Journalism Syndicate, Israeli forces have killed more than 50 Palestinian journalists since 2001. Reporters without Borders has recorded more than 144 journalists injured in just the last four years.
Palestinians across the globe — including celebrities such as supermodel Bella Hadid — accused tech giants, like Meta, of shadow-banning content that mentions the ongoing displacement of Palestinians.
“My Instagram has disabled me from posting on my story — pretty much only when it is Palestine based I’m going to assume,” Hadid wrote in an Instagram post.
During the May 2021 Israeli bombing of Gaza, Instagram posts were filtered as “sensitive content” that “some people may find offensive or disturbing.” These posts did not contain gruesome details or visuals of violence but were frequently informational graphics on how to support Palestinians.
Palestine may be thousands of miles from Seattle, but in past years Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers attended tactical trainings about terror attack prevention and response from Israeli forces. According to Barghouti, Israel is the number two destination for SPD international training.
In September 2021, Seattle City Council narrowly voted against legislation that would have prohibited the city’s police department from conducting training with any country that violates human rights according to international law. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 of 2016 states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law.
While End the Deadly Exchange organized in support of the bill, other groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) lobbied against it. In March 2022, a leaked memo from ADL Senior VP George Selim and ADL VP for Law Enforcement analysis Greg Ehrie acknowledged that these trainings are extremely costly and may have led to a militarization of police in the United States.
“Her murder is the latest testament to Israel impunity. No one is safe - not a child, not a mother, nothing is off the table,” Barghouti said.
The violence didn’t stop with Abu Akleh’s death. As her casket was carried out of a Jerusalem hospital’s gates, Israeli police attacked mourners with batons and set off stun grenades. The pallbearers almost dropped Abu Akleh’s coffin.
Barghouti called on the public to take action to end U.S. complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She emphasized the need to urge lawmakers to support legislation that ends military funding, diplomatic cover and the repression of Palestinian activism, including Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaigns.
To learn more about End the Deadly Exchange Seattle, visit https://www.seattledeadlyexchange.com or check out
@enddxseattle on social media.
Samira Khadar is the development manager for Real Change. Previously, she organized with Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) UW.
Update: This article has been updated to include other organizations in which Bissan Barghouti belongs and Samira Khadar's title.
Read more of the May 25-31, 2022 issue.