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Al Jazeera submits case of journalist's killing to ICC

December 6, 2022

The media network and the family of the victim claim Israeli forces deliberately targeted the veteran reporter, and are calling for a formal investigation through the International Criminal Court.

Rodney Dixon, lawyer for Al Jazeera, and Lina Abu Akleh, niece of Shireen Abu Akleh, outside of the International Criminal Court in The Hague
Rodney Dixon, lawyer for Al Jazeera, and Lina Abu Akleh, niece of Shireen Abu Akleh, requested a formal investigation by the International Criminal Court Image: Peter Dejong/AP/picture alliance

Media network Al Jazeera took the killing of its journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Tuesday, following an investigation by its lawyers that allegedly showed the veteran reporter was deliberately shot by Israeli forces

According to the network, its legal team had conducted "a full and detailed investigation into the case and unearthed new evidence based on several eyewitness accounts, the examination of multiple items of video footage, and forensic evidence pertaining to the case."

The Qatar-based television channel said it had found "new witness evidence and video footage [that] clearly show Shireen and her colleagues were directly fired at by the Israeli Occupation Forces." 

The death of the Palestinian-American, shot while covering an Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on May 11, sparked international outrage.

Israel condemns external probe  

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted: "No one will conduct investigations into Israeli soldiers, and no one can instruct us about morality in waging war, certainly not Al Jazeera."

Tel Aviv announced it would not cooperate with external probes into Abu Akleh's death. Israel is not a part of the ICC and disputes the court's jurisdiction. 

The veteran reporter was wearing a bulletproof vest marked "Press" and a helmet when she was shot in the head at a historic flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The Israeli army admitted on September 5 that it was likely one of its soldiers had shot Abu Akleh after mistaking her for a militant. 

"The claim by the Israeli authorities that Shireen was killed by mistake in an exchange of fire is completely unfounded," Al Jazeera said.

ICC holds final say on prosecution of case 

Any individual or group can file a complaint to the ICC prosecutor for investigation. However, the international court is not obliged to take them on, deciding independently what cases to submit to the judges at the court. 

Judges then decide on whether a preliminary investigation will be conducted by the prosecutor or not. A formal investigation follows, as well as charges, if warranted. 

However, the majority of such cases do not end up in investigations, the ICC stated. 

los/aw (dpa, AP, Reuters, AFP)