A year after the cold-blooded murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli regime forces during a military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, the fight for justice and accountability continues.

The diabolic murder that happened in broad daylight and shook the world has been virtually swept under the carpet with time, as the apartheid regime continues to mow down Palestinians with impunity — including women and children.

On the morning of May 11, 2022, senior Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Abu Akleh, 51, was fatally shot by Israeli regime forces, with bullets piercing her head, while she was covering a military raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

The viral footage from the murder scene showed that she and her colleagues were wearing a flak jacket marked with the word “PRESS” across their chest and back.

As her family and colleagues attested, and even investigative agencies later revealed, she was targeted for being a journalist, for exposing the regime’s crimes. She was showered with at least 16 bullets.

Her murder was met with widespread condemnation. Journalists, human rights organizations and politicians worldwide spoke out against the broad daylight murder and demanded justice and accountability.

Blaming the victim

Israeli regime officials initially blamed her murder on Palestinian resistance fighters, but all evidence suggested otherwise. Later, the regime officials refused to even conduct a probe into the incident, aware of the result.

Five months after the killing, an Israeli military probe finally acknowledged that there was a “strong possibility” that Israeli forces fired the shot “accidentally”, without ruling out fratricide.

The United Nations probe, and a series of investigations by Western news outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Associated Press, as well as Netherlands-based research collective Bellingcat concluded that the Israeli forces fired bullets at Abu Akleh.

These were the news organizations that initially tried to whitewash the heinous crime, terming it “death”, instead of “murder”.

A joint report by Forensic Architecture, a London-based research group, and al-Haq the respected Ramallah-based human rights organization also found evidence that the Israeli military intended to kill Abu Akleh and her journalist colleagues.

It wasn’t accidental but deliberate. The intention was to kill. And the target was a journalist, a female Palestinian journalist.

Despite compelling evidence that it was a targeted killing, the regime rejected reports and refused to take action against those responsible for the crime, which wasn’t surprising.

Killing the messenge

Israel has evaded responsibility for the killing of at least 20 journalists over the past two decades, according to documented reports by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released on Tuesday ahead of the first anniversary of Abu Akleh’s murder.

It said that up to 80 percent of journalists and media workers killed by the Israeli military were Palestinians and absolutely none was an Israeli.

A decades-long deadly pattern shows that the regime has never ordered probes into the killings of journalists, a CPJ report found.

“No one has ever been charged or held accountable for these deaths … severely undermining the freedom of the press,” the exhaustive report noted, adding that the regime has for long refused to revise its rules of engagement and has never been held accountable for its heinous crimes.

In September 2022, Abu Akleh’s family formally submitted a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“The evidence is overwhelming. It’s been over four months since Shireen was killed. Our family shouldn’t have to wait another day for justice,” her family wrote in a statement after submitting the complaint.

In the statement, they slammed the US’ failure to protect its citizens and urged the international community to take action.

“It’s obvious that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. The US still has an obligation to investigate and take meaningful action for one of their own citizens,” read the letter.

“But when an individual state fails to protect its own citizens, it’s the responsibility of the international community to protect them instead.

Partners in crime

When it comes to human rights violations committed against Palestinians, Israel has a long track record of flouting international law and evading justice, made possible by the unwavering support it enjoys from the US and its other Western and Arab allies.

Despite the international outcry, various reports and calls for justice, the international community has only provided lip service to the millions of people who have been fighting for justice for the slain journalist.

Justice has not been served for Abu Akleh or any other victim of the apartheid regime, according to rights activists.

In the aftermath of Abu Akleh’s murder, European Union strongly condemned her killing and offered its condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

“It is essential that a thorough, independent investigation clarifies all the circumstances of these incidents as soon as possible and that those responsible are brought to justice,” the statement said.

In September 2022, however, the EU dropped calls for an “independent” probe following a meeting between EU officials and then-Israeli premier Yair Lapid. A deal was apparently struck.

In April 2022, a few days before the killing of Abu Akleh, a coalition of the International Federation of Journalists, the Palestinian Press Syndicate, and leading human rights lawyers submitted an initial complaint to the ICC over the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists.

Aljazeera, Abu Akleh’s employer, also filed a complaint asking the ICC to run a probe into her murder case.

However, Israel and its chief ally, the US, are not members of the ICC and have always refused to recognize its jurisdiction. As rights activists maintain, these two entities have refused to be ICC members for a reason.

In December 2022, US State Department announced its objection to Al Jazeera’s decision to refer the case of Abu Akleh to the ICC — as a partner in crime.

Last November, following pressure from some members of US Congress, the FBI opened an investigation into the murder of Abu Akleh, which was again denounced by Israel. So far, there has been no public update about the status of the investigation.

In early May, the Axios reported that the US security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority has recently confirmed the deliberate nature of Abu Akleh’s murder.

Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat senator, urged the US administration to give legislators access to the report “for Congressional review.

Joe Biden administration, under pressure from fellow Democrats to hold the Israeli regime accountable for the journalist’s killing, has not acknowledged the existence of the report.

In his letter, Van Hollen raised concerns that the Biden administration may alter the report to protect his allies in Tel Aviv.

Calls for justice

Over the past few days, in the run-up to Abu Akleh’s first killing anniversary, her family members, friends and colleagues have renewed calls for justice.

“The evidence is overwhelming. An Israeli soldier killed my aunt, a US citizen, while she was wearing a clearly marked press vest. After a year, it’s past time for accountability. We deserve justice,” Abu Akleh’s niece, Lina Abu Akeleh, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Years of seeing justice not being served for Palestinians tells me we shouldn’t expect much [from officials]. But if we focus on whatever silver lining there is, I’d never seen anything like the turnout at her funeral … It showed how loved and respected she was,” said Dalia Hatuqa, Abu Akleh’s friend and former colleague.

Amira, a 20-year-old student at a Ramallah concert held earlier this week in honor of Abu Akleh, said she thought when the regime change could kill Abu Akleh, they can kill “any one of us”.

“But we need to continue resisting and we need to have hope,” she was quoted as saying.

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