From the moment on May 11th 2022 when the news broke that Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh had been shot while in Jenin to report on an Israeli army operation, the BBC adopted – and heavily promoted – the version of events put out by her employer, her family, the Palestinian Authority and assorted political NGOs.
The BBC’s extensive focus on that story has included interviews and statements made by members of the Abu Akleh family, including her brother Tony:
It was therefore unsurprising that on May 11th this year, the BBC News website chose to publish a report by Tom Bateman titled ‘Shireen Abu Aqla: Al Jazeera reporter’s family still hope for justice’.
Bateman opened his article with uncritical promotion of quotes from Abu Akleh’s brother, whom he has interviewed in the past.
“The brother of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqla says his family is still being denied justice while her killers enjoy “impunity”.
The veteran Al Jazeera correspondent was shot dead during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank last May.
Her brother Tony Abu Aqla spoke to the BBC as events take place to mark the first anniversary of her killing.
He says it is “depressing” that a US-led investigation could be hampered by an Israeli refusal to co-operate.
“We still have lots of hope it will be achieved [but] it’s not easy. For us, they are the criminals. They are the ones who targeted Shireen,” he says.
“And from day one, they’ve been trying to cover up this killing by releasing several narratives that were old, were fake, trying to elude justice,” he adds.”
In November 2022, Bateman promoted statements from the Abu Akleh family concerning that “US-led investigation” on Twitter and two months earlier he had promoted what he termed “important new analysis” produced by the PFLP terror group-linked NGO ‘Al Haq’ and the politically motivated ‘research’ organisation ‘Forensic Architecture’ (with help from the Qatari outlet which employed Shireen Abu Akleh).
It therefore perhaps should not come as too much of a surprise to find Bateman unequivocally promoting the claim that Abu Akleh was killed by an IDF soldier even though that has not been proved conclusively.
“The journalist was shot dead in Jenin refugee camp by Israeli troops stationed around 650ft (200m) from where she and other journalists were preparing to work, according to evidence and eyewitness accounts.” [emphasis added]
Bateman’s report later returns to the topic of that US investigation:
“In November the Israeli government said the US Department of Justice had opened an inquiry, alongside reports the FBI was involved. But Israel’s defence ministry said it would not co-operate and would “not allow interference in Israel’s internal affairs”.”
Bateman does not clarify to readers that the US had already conducted an investigation or that, as noted in a BBC report at the time, Israel would be likely to refuse any request to interrogate soldiers or allow access to classified information by a foreign country. Instead he uncritically promotes more of his interviewee’s talking points, including unevidenced claims of “impunity” and “double standards”:
“The family has welcomed the US investigation but says the government has not done enough given Ms Abu Aqla was an American citizen.
“We didn’t receive the support we were expecting and anticipated to receive from them,” said Mr Abu Aqla.
“It’s not easy trying to get justice when it’s Israel. Unfortunately, they enjoy this impunity and maybe this is the time to end this impunity and the double standards exercised on Israel,” he said.
“Every time we see an Israeli soldier, we believe this is the one who killed Shireen,” he added.”
Bateman’s article also includes an account of Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral which comes nowhere near to telling the whole story:
“The following days saw the biggest crowds in Jerusalem for a Palestinian funeral in decades, and in scenes condemned internationally, Israeli border police beat and kicked coffin-bearers and used stun grenades to push back mourners.”
Bateman’s article does not provide any new information to readers whatsoever. It clearly represents nothing more than BBC collaboration with the family’s use of the anniversary of Shireen Abu Akleh’s death to gain publicity for their version of events and demands for investigations by various parties.