Palestinian envoy weeps at UN over killed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh

Diplomat Riyad Mansour twice broke down in tears discussing Palestinian-American journalist

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Palestinian official Riyad Mansour broke down in tears at the UN Security Council on Thursday while speaking about Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed during an Israeli raid in the West Bank two weeks ago.

Mr Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, choked up twice during a 15-minute speech in New York over the death of Abu Akleh, a veteran Palestinian-American reporter for Al Jazeera's Arabic service.

“Shireen deserves justice. Our people deserve justice. Our lives matter. Our freedom matters. Our dignity matters,” Mr Mansour told diplomats, his voice quavering.

“Rest in peace, dear Shireen. And one day, may our people live in peace.”

Palestinian investigators say Israeli authorities deliberately killed Abu Akleh as she tried to flee on May 11, as Israeli forces raided the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Israel disputes this, saying she died amid a shoot-out with Palestinian militants.

The 51-year-old journalist rose to fame two decades ago during the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule, exposing the harsh realities of life under the occupation.

Breaking down in the council chamber once again, Mr Mansour said the killing was no accident, but rather part of a pattern by which Israeli forces occupy Palestinian land and control his people’s lives.

“We are not being killed by mistake, but as part of grand design aiming to make sure we all understand no one is safe, so that we all live with fear in our hearts,” said the envoy.

“If you are a Palestinian, you are a legitimate target and Israel can decide if you get to live or die.”

Abu Akleh was among a group of journalists wearing helmets and protective vests marked “press” in the flashpoint city of Jenin, a bastion of Palestinian militants. Witnesses and Palestinian officials say she was hit in the head by Israeli fire.

Israel says she was shot during a battle between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. It says that only a ballistic analysis of the bullet — which is held by the Palestinian Authority — and the soldiers’ guns can determine who fired the fatal shot.

The Palestinian Authority has refused to hand over the bullet to Israel for its own investigation.

Israel denies attacking journalists and has offered two possible scenarios: she was either shot by Palestinian gunmen as they fired recklessly at an Israeli army convoy or she was hit by Israeli gunfire aimed at a nearby militant.

At the same meeting, US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield lamented the “heart-rending killing” of a “widely respected veteran reporter” and “role model” to aspiring young women journalists.

“We call for an immediate, thorough, transparent and impartial investigation [and] full accountability for those found responsible,” said Ms Thomas-Greenfield.

Updated: May 26, 2022, 7:17 PM
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