What Shireen Abu Akleh Videos Reveal About How She Was Shot to Death

Videos circulating on social media—compounded with eyewitness testimonies—dispute Israel's official stance that Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed by Palestinian gunmen.

Abu Akleh—a 51-year-old Palestinian-American veteran journalist—was killed on Wednesday morning as Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Al Jazeera producer Ali Al-Samudi also suffered gunshot wounds in his back in the attack.

Al Jazeera, the Palestinian Authority, and eyewitness accounts said Abu Akleh was killed by an Israeli live round. Israeli officials have said, "Palestinian terrorists" were likely the ones to have shot the journalist.

Israeli officials—including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the country's foreign ministry—shared a video appearing to depict Palestinian men yelling and scattering after one masked man fired a shot in an alleyway.

Israeli government and media figures circulated the video with various quotes attributed to the men, most notably that they boasted about killing a soldier or an Israeli. The Israeli foreign ministry's translation quotes the men as saying: "They've hit one, they've hit a soldier, he's laying on the ground."

The 27-second video starts with the masked man firing the shot. As gunfire can be heard in the background, the cameraman then can be heard saying in Arabic, "Be careful, they're shooting at the house."

The man filming also makes religious invocations, before frantically yelling at the other men to back away.

Palestinian journalist protests Shireen Abu Akleh's killing
A Palestinian journalist protests the death of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead while covering an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin on May 11, 2022. HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images

In the midst of the incident, the cameraman then reportedly said, "One person was injured, a soldier was injured and fell on the ground." Another man asked, "Why did they shoot him?"

Non-profit organization B'Tselem said their field researcher in Jenin visited both the alleyway where this video was filmed, as well as the location where Abu Akleh was shot. Based on B'Tselem's location markers, it does not appear likely that the armed Palestinian in the video could have aimed at the journalists.

Newsweek could not independently confirm the locations where both incidents took place, nor the distance between them.

"Documentation of Palestinian gunfire distributed by Israeli military cannot be the gunfire that killed Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh," B'Tselem concluded.

Israel's foreign ministry then responded to B'Tselem by tweeting, "There was no claim that the gunfire in the clip killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Rather, that Palestinian terrorists were firing indiscriminately, and that they identified shooting down someone that looked to them like a soldier (ie, perhaps wearing a vest and helmet)."

Palestinian journalists who were in the same group as Abu Akleh on Wednesday morning maintained they were shot at by Israeli forces.

Speaking to the media from a hospital bed, producer Ali Al-Samudi said Israeli forces opened fire on the group "when we were right in front of them, as they saw and watched us, and are sure that we are journalists because we were, five, six, wearing press vests and helmets, and carrying cameras."

"We arrived at the camp, there was an army raid. We gathered at a point, me and my journalist colleagues, to determine, we found out where the army was," Al-Samudi said. "So we went, me and Shireen, and the rest of the colleagues. We went through an entrance, the army is directly in front of us."

"There were no civilians. There was no gun firing at the army. I mean, that at the site, there was no one but us journalists," he continued. "We entered in a slow and smooth way, wearing the press vests and hats, on the basis of getting to them, and if they tell us to go ahead, go ahead, and if they said go back, go back.

"We were surprised, after we walked 10 meters, when we were in front of them, that all of a sudden they starting shooting at us, so we retreated."

In footage of the incident shared by Al Jazeera, Abu Akleh can be seen lying motionless on the ground. Next to her body is journalist Shatha Hanaysha, who stands helplessly paralyzed amid the sounds of gunshots and men screaming Abu Akleh's name off-camera.

Journalist Mujahid Al-Saadi, who was part of the group, later said Israeli forces' indiscriminate gunfire prevented others—even Hanaysha—from helping Abu Akleh.

"We tried to rescue Shireen, we couldn't rescue her," Al-Saadi said. "Shatha couldn't reach her, and she's only centimeters away."

Abu Akleh's body was eventually retrieved, as documented by footage of men carrying the journalist—motionless and her face covered in blood—to a car.

Al-Samudi, Al-Saadi and Hanaysha separately said they believed Israeli forces intentionally targeted Abu Akleh.

"She was wearing the helmet on her head, and it's clear that the person who killed her was intent on injuring her in an exposed part of her body that is not covered by the helmet," Hanaysha later told media.

Abu Akleh, a household name in the Arab world, was widely mourned on social media by those who knew her or admired her work.

In a strongly-worded statement, her employer Al Jazeera called the journalist's killing a "blatant murder" that is "violating international laws and norms."

"Al Jazeera extends its sincere condolences to the family of Shireen in Palestine, and to her extended family around the world, and we pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice," the network said.