Ghufran Harun Warasneh

Only 23 days after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killed Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist  Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, they have once again killed another journalist. As reported by the National Press Club Journalism Institute in Washington, 31-year-old journalist Ghufran Harun Warasneh was shot by IDF soldiers on June 1 while being questioned at an Israeli checkpoint in Area B near Hebron at the entrance of the al-‘Arrub refugee camp.

The camp, first established in 1949 in the aftermath of the Nakba (catastrophe) by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), has since 1967 been under Israeli occupation and today houses more than 10,000 displaced Palestinians.

Warasneh was killed while on her way with a friend to her new job she was about to start as a radio presenter at Dream, a local news agency in Hebron. Ironically, it was reported in Middle East Eye (MEE) that her first assignment was a report on murdered Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

Israeli media reports stated the shooting occurred when Warasneh attempted to stab a soldier and the soldiers opened fire to counter a “terrorist threat.” Eyewitnesses however disputed the statement indicating she did nothing wrong. Her brother Mohammad reported that she had been “shot twice to her left side, in her armpit and chest” and was allowed to “bleed out” for 20 minutes when a responding Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance was held up at the checkpoint.

This is not an unfamiliar story that ambulances are delayed or not allowed to pass checkpoints by IDF soldiers when attempting to assist Palestinians requiring transport to a hospital for their injuries. This inhumane practice of disallowing or delaying medical help is a normal situation Palestinians endure daily living under Israeli occupation. Ghufran later died in the hospital due to the catastrophic nature of her injuries.

Middle East Eye (MEE) reported that, “After her body was prepared for burial, her family and neighbours carried Warasneh back to her to final resting place, having to pass the spot where she was killed. There, a group of Israeli soldiers were waiting for them. The funeral was attacked as soldiers tried to prevent its passing, firing stun grenades, tear gas and beating the pallbearers.” Her brother Mohammad was also quoted in the same article as saying that, “Abu Akleh was a journalist. My sister was a journalist. Abu Akleh was killed on the job. My sister was killed on her job.”

In January of this year after reporting on a pro-Palestinian march, Warasneh was jailed for three months having had her camera equipment confiscated and destroyed in the ongoing concerted effort by the IDF to silence and intimidate journalists to keep them from covering the occupation while suppressing press freedom.

Without international pressure to conduct an unbiased, impartial, comprehensive and transparent investigation into her death, it would be highly unlikely that results by Israeli authorities would find fault with the IDF. Going by the usual Israeli playbook, a narrative will be created that accuses the person killed of being complicit in their own death. Following the usual Israeli-biased proforma investigation, the victim would be accused of provoking the use of force by soldiers and their resultant death as “justified” due to the victim’s actions.

The targeted killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and now the wanton killing of Ghufran Harun Warasneh amounts to an open season of killing journalists by IDF forces, moving yet another step forward unabated. Thus far, this latest killing elevates the count to 45 of mostly Palestinian journalists killed by the IDF since 2000.

(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink.)

Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.


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