“Robustly pursuing the Palestine investigation is crucial to the ICC’s very legitimacy,” a HRW director said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the International Criminal Court to pursue ongoing Israeli violations against Palestinians in a statement to Doha News, after the UN published findings on the killing of Al Jazeera TV journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
The Palestinian-American journalist was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper while covering the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) raid of Jenin. Despite being clearly identified as a member of the press through her flak jacket and helmet, the Israeli soldier proceeded to shoot her.
HRW has “documented the routine use of excessive force by the Israeli armed forces and their pattern of indiscriminate fire that has injured and killed journalists in the past,” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at HRW, told Doha News.
“All the evidence, including multiple serious, independent investigations, point to Israeli forces having gunned down Shireen Abu Akleh.
“The killing and assault on Abu Akleh’s funeral procession took place amid a larger context where serious abuses are being committed with impunity. Victims of these grave abuses have faced a wall of impunity in Israel over many decades,” he added.
Abu Akleh’s killing prompts for the urgent need of ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor to advance its investigation “into serious crimes in Palestine,” he added.
The ICC, Shakir argues, was created precisely to address instances like this, where the violations are dire and “climate of impunity is pervasive.”
“Robustly pursuing the Palestine investigation is crucial to the ICC’s very legitimacy,” Shakir told Doha News.
The comments came just days after the United Nations said on Friday that its findings proved that the bullet fired to kill Abu Akleh on 11 May was shot Israeli forces.
While concluding an independent monitoring into the tragedy, UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) confirmed: “All information we have gathered […] is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”
“It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation,” said OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.
“All the evidence, including multiple serious, independent investigations, point to Israeli forces having gunned down Shireen Abu Akleh. Israeli authorities have a long track record of whitewashing abuses and have given every indication that they’ll do the same here,” Shakir said.
The information came from the Israeli military and the Palestinian Attorney General, she added.
“We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists,” Shamdasani noted.
In compliance with its international human rights monitoring methodology, the UN rights office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.
The investigation explored showed that seven journalists, including Abu Akleh, arrived at the western entrance of Jenin camp in the northern occupied West Bank, shortly after 6:00 AM.
At approximately 6:30 AM, as four of the journalists went into the street leading to the camp, wearing bulletproof helmets and vest marked ‘PRESS,’ “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired” towards them coming from the direction of the IOF.
“One single bullet injured Ali Sammoudi in the shoulder, another single bullet hit Abu Akleh in the head and killed her instantly,” OHCHR said.
“Shots continued to be fired as this individual eventually managed to carry away Abu Akleh’s body.”
The Israeli military has said it is not conducting a criminal investigation into the killing of the late Al Jazeera journalist, Tel Aviv media outlet, Haaretz, reported in May.
The apartheid state’s sniper claimed he did not see Abu Akleh.
Despite the Israeli soldier admitting to the crime, occupation forces official, Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, decided to not order an investigation as she believed “there is no suspicion of a criminal act.”
Haaretz reported that the zionist official based the decision on claims by the soldiers that the occupation forces did not see the journalist. It insisted that the bullet was directed at Palestinians who were allegedly armed.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged the regime to open a criminal probe into Abu Akleh’s killing and into all other killings by Israeli forces “in the West Bank and in the context of law enforcement operations in Gaza,” OHCHR said.
However, Israel said in June that it will not punish occupation forces behind the attacks witnessed during Abu Akleh’s procession, Haaretz reported.
Meanwhile, the United States also called for an independent investigation into the killing of the Palestinian journalist after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was heckled at a conference in June.
“We are determined to follow the facts and get to the truth of what happened,” he said, though he denied any details of the incident have been conclusively established, in a clear change of stance by Washington, which had only previously called for transparency.
Speaking to Doha News, Shakir: “Millions of Palestinians today live a reality of structural violence and apartheid.”