The murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has shocked the globe and PEN Malta has called on Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg and EP President Roberta Metsola to take action.
“We are not satisfied by the explanations given by the Israeli authorities, nor do we feel it is enough to have an investigation of the nature proposed by the Israeli government. We do feel strongly, however, that there needs to be an international independent investigation that establishes the facts to ensure those responsible for this murder are held accountable,” PEN Malta President Immanuel Mifsud wrote in a letter to Borg and Metsola.
“We understand from your recent declarations that relations with Israel are among your priorities. I hope that in this context you will use all your influence, both directly with Israel, as well as on every other international platform, to condemn this killing, which witnesses point towards the Israeli military.”
Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head by an Israeli bullet while covering a military raid in the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of the Palestinian Fatah movement. Al Jazeera, where Abu Akleh, has accused Israel of deliberately killing the journalist.
Borg has said on social media that he was “shocked by the killing”, adding that Malta supported “a full, transparent investigation and accountability.”
However, Mifsud said that “words of condemnation, however, are inadequate when Israel is allowed to break international law repeatedly”.
“The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh is not the first killing of a journalist by the Israeli military. Last year, Israel bombed a tower block full of residents and media offices belonging to international organisations, including Al Jazeera and Associated Press. On 7 April 2018, Israeli soldiers shot and killed photo journalist Yasser Murtaja, 31, in the Gaza Strip, while he was doing his job. On 13 April 2018, Israeli soldiers killed photo journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24, while he was doing his job,” he said.
“Since 2018, Israeli security forces committed 140 violations against journalists. More than 30 journalists have been killed since 2000. In spite of this, Israel was allowed to carry on with impunity and avoiding justice. The total absence of any sanction or action from the international community in Israel’s regard is in itself a guarantee that these acts will keep happening and the injustice keeps growing.”
“As long as governments like ours keep their eyes closed to these serious violations of international law, journalists will keep getting killed for merely telling the inconvenient truth about Israel.”
“I urge you to use all your influence so that Israel stops this attack on freedom of expression and to help ensure justice for the victims of this violence.
Should Malta act over the murder?