How Israeli PM’s Office Statement Regarding Shireen Abu-Aqleh’s Death Should Have Sounded

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office put out this statement regarding the death of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu-Aqleh:

In my opinion, this is hit and miss.

What I liked about it: Having an articulate English speaker like Keren Hajioff read it out; Israel expressing its commitment to get to the truth as to how she was killed; questioning what the palestinian Arabs are trying to hide in rejecting a joint investigation with Israel; mentioning the initial inconclusive autopsy results; mentioning that accusations are being made against Israel without concrete evidence; implying that the palestinian Arabs may disrupt or contaminate the investigation; mentioning Israel’s commitment to ensuring freedom of the press.

What I didn’t like about it: The apologetics, especially the initial part that mentioned how her colleagues used to work with the journalist; it lacked context as to why we were operating in Jenin to begin with; it needed to mention how initial circumstantial evidence seems to indicate that it was more likely she was killed by the terrorists; it lets those making baseless accusations off too easily.

I took a stab at drafting my own statement, the one I wish the Prime Minister’s Office came out with:

On the morning of May 11, 2022, IDF, ISA, and Border police forces conducted counterterrorism activity in the Jenin Camp and other locations in Judea and Samaria to apprehend terrorist suspects. This was a response to the murders of 19 Israelis at the hands of palestinian terrorists since March, and the least our democratic country can do to protect its civilians – whether they be Jewish, Muslim or Christian.

A democratic country that also safeguards the freedom of the press.

During the course of intense firefights in Jenin, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was tragically killed. We believe it was highly likely she was killed by the terrorists we were engaged with, given a number of factors, including:

  • The relative locations of our forces, the terrorists, and Shireen Abu Aqleh
  • The care our forces take to avoid civilian casualties vs the lack of care of the terrorists, who have a track record in using their own people as human shields
  • Video footage showing the indiscriminate way in which the terrorists were firing at IDF positions, including right before Shireen Abu Aqleh was shown to have been killed

Despite the fact we believe it was more likely she was killed by the terrorists, we understand only a comprehensive, joint investigation may uncover what actually happened. We have expressed our desire to cooperate with all parties in order to get to the bottom as to how exactly she was killed. Unfortunately, the PA have refused to cooperate, which beggars the question: are they trying to hide something?

To those who are accusing Israel of having assassinated Shireen Abu Aqleh, we ask you these questions:

  • Are you in possession of any information that even the Director of the Palestinian Forensic Medicine Institute – who publicly stated that the initial autopsy results were inconclusive – is not?
  • Why were you silent over the cold-blooded murders of 19 innocent people that necessitated our operation in Jenin to begin with?
  • Why have you been silent over the deaths of 20 journalists killed so far in the Russian war in the Ukraine?
  • Why is it that you seem to dispense with the presumption of innocence when it comes to the Jewish state?

By rushing to act as judge, jury and executioner, your actions do nothing to help bring about peace. On the contrary, you provide an added incentive for the terrorists to target our innocent people while showing scant regard for their own. Instead, we encourage you to implore the PA to refrain from disrupting or contaminating the investigation, and co-operate with us in order to allow Shireen Abu Aqleh‘s family to find justice.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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