Security Council Condemns Killing of Al Jazeera Journalist

United Nations Security Council meets after in New York City, US February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
United Nations Security Council meets after in New York City, US February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Security Council Condemns Killing of Al Jazeera Journalist

United Nations Security Council meets after in New York City, US February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
United Nations Security Council meets after in New York City, US February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously condemned the killing of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank, diplomats said.

The statement -- a rare case of Security Council unity on an issue related to Israel -- also called for "an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into her killing."

According to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity, the negotiations on the text were particularly arduous.

China successfully pushed the United States to remove paragraphs denouncing abuses committed against the media around the world, defending their freedom and urging their protection while covering military operations, according to diplomatic sources and different versions of the declaration obtained by AFP during the discussions.

The final text merely says that "journalists should be protected as civilians" and does not mention violence during the Friday funeral for Abu Akleh.

Television footage showed pallbearers struggling to stop Abu Akleh's coffin from falling to the ground as baton-wielding Israeli police officers charged at them, grabbing Palestinian flags from mourners.

Abu Akleh, a star journalist for Al Jazeera, was killed as she covered unrest in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

The Qatar-based network alleged that she was deliberately targeted by Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett initially said that armed Palestinians were "likely" responsible, but Israel has since walked back the allegation and said it was investigating.

Israel called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority. But the Palestinians rejected a joint investigation and demanded an independent international investigation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for her killing and said he would immediately ask the International Criminal Court to investigate. The ICC launched an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes over a year ago, a probe Israel has rejected as biased.

The Security Council did not use the word international, calling for an impartial investigation and stressing the need to ensure accountability.

Negotiations on the council statement were led by Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Norway's UN Ambassador Mona Juul commended the “good collaboration," calling the protection of journalists a priority for her country.

“We are particularly concerned about the rising trend in attacks on media works, and on women journalists in particular" Juul said in a statement.



Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
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Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israel renewed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, after the United States renewed its criticism of its ally over the high civilian casualty toll of the war.

Residents told AFP of Israeli warplanes striking central Gaza and artillery fire hitting the territory's south, while medics said they pulled multiple bodies from the rubble of the latest bombardment.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials that casualties among Palestinian civilians "still remain unacceptably high".

"We continue to see far too many civilians killed in this conflict," spokesman Matthew Miller said after Blinken meth Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington has been pushing for a truce between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the group was pulling out of indirect talks for a deal in protest at recent Israeli "massacres", including a massive strike on Sunday that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed at least 92 people.

Haniyeh said Hamas stood ready to return to the indirect talks once Israel "demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal".

After the latest deadly strikes, medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they recovered four bodies from a house outside the southern city of Khan Yunis and another from Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza.

The Israeli military said that over the previous 24 hours its air force struck "approximately 40 terror targets" in Gaza. They included "sniping posts, observation posts, Hamas military structures, terror infrastructure, and buildings rigged with explosives".

It said its troops were also continuing targeted raids in the far-southern city of Rafah and in the central Gaza Strip.