ICC case of Abu Akleh's murder: addendum proves intentional targeting
The martyr's family submits an updated report to the ICC in The Hague after the most comprehensive forensic analysis to date exhibits proof of intentional targeting by the IOF.
A complaint has been filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) by murdered Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's family, following the emergence of evidence from a new report proving that the slain journalist was deliberately killed at the hands of Israeli occupation forces (IOF).
In the family's official statement submitted at The Hague on Tuesday, it read: “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, 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. But when an individual state fails to protect its own citizens, it’s the responsibility of the international community to protect them instead.”
Shireen Abu Akleh, famed Al Jazeera journalist and a veteran reporter, was murdered on May 11 when the IOF, storming the Jenin refugee camp north of the West Bank, shot her with a live bullet to the head as she was covering the events of the storming.
Palestinian "militants" were initially accused by "Israel" of her murder but following the spark of widespread international outrage, it was later announced that her murder at the hands of an Israeli soldier was a “high possibility”, as the IOF still insists that the shooting was "accidental", and the US Department of State ruling it as "unintentional", leading to an "unfounded" criminal investigation.
The journalist's family slammed the American probe, calling it "incredulous" for its inconclusive findings, and has continued to press for justice for Abu Akleh's killer in July. Abu Akleh's niece, Lina, said: “[Secretary Blinken] told us that he has a duty to protect every US citizen. We will hold him to this. Nothing short of a US investigation that leads to real accountability is acceptable, and we won’t stop until no other American or Palestinian family endures the same pain we have.”
Today my family is at the International Criminal Court to submit a formal complaint, calling on the international community to investigate Israel's killing of my aunt Shireen Abu Akleh, and deliver accountability and justice where others have failed. Our family statement below 👇 pic.twitter.com/uMWRCLR49d— Lina Abu Akleh (@LinaAbuAkleh) September 20, 2022
It was concluded however by a UN investigation into the matter, alongside several journalistic probes, that Israeli forces were culpable for killing Abu Akleh. A new collaborated report from Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, and respected Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, reasserts that the journalist and her colleagues were intentionally targeted, including a civilian who attempted to carry out first-aid on the scene. This report is considered the most comprehensive to date.
The report entailed drone surveys, spatial and audio analysis, geolocated video, and photos from witnesses used by the researchers, in addition to previously unseen footage recorded by an Al Jazeera videojournalist at the scene which aided in recreating a digital reenactment of events.
The investigation tracked the movements of various actors, the trajectory and the scattering of the bullets, taking into account the precise angle of the Israeli sniper, deducing that the location of the sniper was clear enough to locate and identify the target group as journalists.
Per the findings of the comprehensive investigation, the sniper fired three rounds: an initial six shots, followed by another seven after eight seconds. It was a shot in the second round of fire that struck Abu Akleh right under her helmet. However, attempts to take her to safety and aid were obstructed by another three shots just two minutes later. Appallingly, all bullets were aimed above the shoulders, indicating their intent to kill on site. The report's findings have been incorporated and supplied in the complaint raised by Abu Akleh's family to the ICC.
An initial complaint was sent to the ICC in April, less than a month before her murder, by an alliance consisting of the International Federation of Journalists, the Palestinian Press Syndicate, and leading human rights lawyers for the systematic and frequent targeting of Palestinian journalists.
Under Additional Protocol 1 of the Third Geneva Convention, Article 79 states that "journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians" and Rule 34 of the customary international humanitarian law states that “civilian journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict must be respected and protected as long as they are not taking a direct part in hostilities” regardless if in a non-international or an international armed conflict.
Last year, the ICC decided that it had an obligation to investigate violence and war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories, but as "Israel" is not a member of the ICC, it does not acknowledge the court’s authority.