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Al Jazeera witness in Abu Akleh death is Palestinian Islamic Jihad member

Israel disputes Al Jazeera’s account of the killing

Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Sleem Awwad (Photo: HonestReporting)

The key witness in Al Jazeera’s formal complaint against Israel over the death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, according to media watchdog website HonestReporting.

On Dec. 6, Al Jazeera filed a formal complaint with the International Criminal Court over the killing of Abu Akleh, accusing Israel of purposefully targeting the Palestinian-American journalist, who was killed by gunfire on May 11 while covering a counter-terrorism operation in Jenin. 

The network claimed its legal team had “unearthed new evidence based on several eyewitness accounts.” HonestReporting found that at least one of those eyewitnesses is associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

PIJ member and Jenin resident Sleem Awwad posted pictures to several social media profiles which show him holding weapons and the flag of the terror group (here, here and here). 

Israel disputes Al Jazeera’s account of the killing, including that it was deliberate. 

In September, the Israeli Defense Forces released a report on its investigation of the killing, noting that Abu Akleh could have been hit either by Israeli gunfire or “by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen,” but the bullet was in a “poor physical state” that made it impossible to determine its source.   

The IDF report noted “a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers.”

With at least one of Al Jazeera’s “key witnesses” a member of a terrorist group that has initiated acts of violence and murder against Israeli targets, HonestReporting editor Gil Hoffman concluded that “the credibility of the investigations of Al Jazeera in probing Abu Akleh’s death are questionable.”

Al Jazeera insists Israeli forces carried out a targeted killing of the journalist, with their position – presented in a Fault Lines segment – based on claims by the Forensic Architecture collective and the Al-Haq Palestinian Rights activist agency. Both groups have a history of anti-Israel advocacy. 

Indeed, Sleem Awwad was present at the time of Abu Akleh’s shooting. He started a live TikTok video recording about five minutes before the journalist’s death. However, over the summer, Awwad deleted his TikTok page and the video. 

After searching Awwad’s existing social media profiles, HonestReporting found several posts praising multiple terrorists as “martyrs.” The Al Jazeera “key witness” also called on followers to donate blood for PIJ Jenin Brigade Commander Muhammad Ayman al-Saadi, who was later killed in a shootout with Israeli forces on Dec. 1.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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