Fallen Hero


Anyone interested in no-punches-pulled coverage of gross human rights abuses in occupied Palestinian territory must have seen the defiant Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh unflinchingly jump in front of a camera and break some of the most difficult pieces of news in the last two decades. Commanding extraordinary respect around the Muslim world and inspiring an entire generation for daring to rattle the one-sided Western narrative, Shireen went down like a true warrior.
Reporting on a live raid by Israeli security forces and shedding light on the miserable conditions of the Jenin refugee camp, she was hit in the head in a brutal attack on not just an individual but the entire institution of the press. Someone holding a mic and reporting from the hottest of conflict hotspots is still protected from any direct transgression under the Geneva convention. That the Israeli administration did not hesitate for a second before implicating her in the violent inertia and more regretfully, tried throwing the blame in the lap of Palestinian military resistance are hallmarks of a fascist regime.
The doomed beacon of journalistic vigour was wearing a clearly marked vest and helmet and standing in a designated zone the day she went down. So much for freedom of media in the new world. Israeli military spokesperson’s horrendous comparison between the work of someone armed with cameras and guns speaks volumes about the systematic disdain for anyone pulling the covers. Miss Shireen was killed while doing her job.
The same job that in her own words, led to “the feeling that death was at times just around the corner.” The devastating killing is, however, an everyday reality for life under Israeli occupation, which has begun to be recognised as deadly apartheid. Every single day, Palestinians wake up to the news of their own being forcefully taken away or killed, but only the noteworthy or blood-curdling of the lot make it to the mainstream media.
It is high time that the international community realises the deliberate attempts to stifle voices by the Israeli forces. If we cannot be bothered by the trembling lives and livelihoods of hapless Palestinians, maybe a few representing a faint connection between the ideals of a civilised world might be worth saving. The Palestinian spirit is still alive and kicking and the journalistic drive, valiantly present to tell all the stories needed to light the much-needed candle. But the million-dollar question hangs heavy in the air: are we ready to stand behind them? Or more importantly, are we listening? Rest in Peace, Miss Shireen. Your golden legacy would outlive all those who wished to subjugate you.