TOKYO: The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on Thursday issued a press release demanding an investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
The FCCJ’s Freedom of the Press Committee statement demanded “an urgent independent inquiry into the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”
The statement noted that “witnesses say the attack was a deliberate killing by Israeli forces while Abu Akleh was covering clashes between the army and protestors in the West Bank city of Jenin.”
Al Jazeera said their reporter, who was wearing a helmet and vest clearly marked ‘PRESS’ was “shot ‘in cold blood’ by a sniper.”
As a journalist, Abu Akleh covered the Israel-Palestinian conflict for 15 years.
Abu Akleh’s producer, Palestinian journalist Ali Samoudi, was also shot in the back in Wednesday’s incident and taken to hospital, where he was in a stable condition
The Israel military said it returned fire after being attacked by Palestinian gunmen and suggested that Abu Akleh was killed in crossfire. However, FCCJ noted that Israeli forces have been accused of targeting journalists in the past. Last year, an Israeli airstrike targeted and destroyed a building in Gaza that housed the offices of the Associated Press and other media outlets.
“We urge all concerned to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, and to punish those responsible if they are found to have behaved criminally,” the FCCJ statement said. “Soldiers acting on behalf of governments must not be allowed to intimidate, threaten or kill reporters, who are simply doing their jobs.”
Founded in 1945 by newspaper, wire service, magazine, radio journalists and photographers who arrived in Japan following the end of the Pacific War, the FCCJ has, throughout its history, been the news hub in not only Japan, but also Asia.