Shireen Abu Aqla: NI journalists condemn killing

Image caption,
Demonstrators in Belfast hold signs in protest against the journalist's killing

A vigil has been held in Belfast to protest against the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla in the West Bank.

Abu Aqla, 51, was shot dead while reporting on an Israeli military raid in Jenin on Wednesday.

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate investigation into her death.

The National Union of Journalists said the whole world had been shocked by the killing.

Robin Wilson, chair of the Belfast and District branch, said they supported calls for an independent investigation.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Shireen Abu Aqla was known to millions for her coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

He said Abu Aqla was "just going about her business in the occupied territory engaging in what journalists should do which is fair and accurate reporting".

"Our heart goes out to the family of the murdered journalist but also we're very conscious that there are many other journalists who have been threatened, who have been injured, who have been killed, of course including in Northern Ireland with Martin O'Hagan and Lyra McKee," he said.

Image caption,
Robin Wilson supported calls for an independent investigation into the killing

"What happens all to often is there are people who seem inclined to shoot the messenger when they don't like the message," Mr Wilson added.

The Belfast demonstration was held in Writer's Square, with another held in Londonderry on Saturday.

During Abu Aqla's funeral on Friday, her coffin almost fell as police, some using batons, waded into a crowd of Palestinians gathered around it.

Footage showed a standoff between police and Palestinians gathered around the coffin in a hospital compound, before officers pushed the crowd back, with some beating and kicking mourners. Police said officers "were forced to use riot dispersal means" after they had been pelted with stones.

Abu Aqla, a 51-year-old Palestinian American, had reported on the Israel-Palestinian conflict for two decades.

A preliminary report by the Palestinian public prosecution service said the sole source of gunfire that killed the journalist on Wednesday was from Israeli forces, which were conducting a raid in the city of Jenin.

Palestinian authorities have already described her death as an assassination by Israel, which for its part has said that it remains unclear whether she died from Israeli or Palestinian fire.

An Israeli military interim report on Thursday said the fatal shot could have come from "massive fire from Palestinian gunmen", or possibly from "a few bullets" fired by a soldier "at a terrorist who was firing at his vehicle".

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