The Abu Akleh report is CNN's latest anti-Israel hit job - opinion

CNN published a report in which it claimed it had investigated Shireen Abu Akleh's death and determined that it had been an intentional Israeli hit.

 A portrait of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid, is displayed during a special mass in her memory in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, May 16, 2022. (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA/REUTERS)
A portrait of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid, is displayed during a special mass in her memory in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, May 16, 2022.

CNN has a history of anti-Israel bias, but the left-wing Cable News Network outdid itself this week. In its coverage on Wednesday of the May 11 killing of 51-year-old Palestinian-American Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid on terrorists in Jenin, the outlet concluded that it had been a targeted shooting.

It did this by providing a dramatic headline about “new evidence suggest[ing]” that this was the case. The body of the story included a bit more context, but not enough to camouflage the slant of the six reporters in the byline. 

The description in the feature-like article of the “shaky video, filmed by Al Jazeera cameraman Majdi Banura, [which] captures the scene when Abu Akleh… was killed by a bullet to the head” glossed over the part about “the footage not showing [her] being shot,” and slid effortlessly into eyewitness accounts. 

The onlookers in question said they “believed” that IDF soldiers had “fired deliberately on the reporters,” all of whom “were wearing protective blue vests that identified them as members of the news media.” One key witness quoted by CNN was Palestinian reporter Shatha Hanaysha. 

"I didn’t think they were trying to kill us.”

Palestinian reporter Shatha Hanaysha
 A PALESTINIAN MAN draws a mural of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90) A PALESTINIAN MAN draws a mural of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)

“As soon as she [Abu Akleh] fell, I honestly wasn’t comprehending that she [was shot],” Hanaysha said. “I was hearing the sound of bullets, but I wasn’t comprehending that they were coming at us… I thought they were shooting, so we stayed back. I didn’t think they were trying to kill us.”

CNN's findings

SHE GOT that right. The Israeli forces were in the midst of a battle against Palestinian terrorists. The notion that they would ever aim at the press is preposterous.

Nor has the source of the bullet that ended Abu Akleh’s life been determined, thanks to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to allow it to undergo ballistic testing. Since this doesn’t fit the anti-Israel narrative, however, it is an inconvenient fact for the likes of CNN, not to mention Al Jazeera.

Worse, CNN claimed to have conducted an investigation that “offers new evidence… corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons expert [indicating] that there was no active combat, nor any Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to her death.”

Aside from Hanaysha’s statement, CNN cited Jamal Huwail, a professor at the Arab American University in Jenin, who “said he believed the shots [that killed Abu Akleh] were coming from one of the Israeli vehicles, which he described as a ‘new model which had an opening for snipers,’ because of the elevation and direction of the bullets.”

According to Huwail, a member of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party and a former legislator in his parliament, these Israeli snipers were “shooting directly at the journalists.” Considering the affiliations and politics of both Hanaysha and Huwail, they are the last people who warrant a say in this particular matter. 

As NGO HonestReporting pointed out on Wednesday, “What CNN does not inform its readers of is that Hanaysha is not just a ‘Palestinian journalist;’… she is someone who openly shares her extremist views on social media… including support for Palestinian terrorists who have carried out deadly attacks against Israeli civilians. In numerous posts, she lavishes praise on ‘martyrs’ who have perpetrated attacks, such as her ‘comrades in arms’ who carried out an ‘executive firing operation that led to the killing of the ‘Ariel’ settlement guard last night,’ a reference to a Hamas-claimed attack in which two men opened fire on an Israeli security guard sitting in a booth outside the city of Ariel in the West Bank in April. In other posts, she describes terror attacks in which innocent people have been murdered as ‘operations’ and describes Palestinians celebrating these deaths as enjoying ‘parties.’” 

Regarding Huwail, the media watchdog had this to say: “One can only imagine how credible CNN’s readers would find [his] testimony if they knew he has described the terrorist who murdered four people in a vehicle-ramming and knife rampage in Beersheba on March 22 as a ‘lone lion’ who had ‘sounded the alarm of this criminal Zionist occupation.’”

CNN's journalistic standards

PRETENDING TO uphold journalistic standards that it does not possess, CNN presented Israel’s side through an anonymous security official who stated that the IDF was conducting an investigation into the killing and “call[ing] on the PA to cooperate with a joint forensic examination with American representatives to conclusively determine the source of the tragic death.”

The official added, “Assertions regarding the source of the fire that killed Ms. Abu Akleh must be carefully made and backed by hard evidence. This is what the IDF is striving to achieve.”

Since this is exactly what Israel’s political, military and diplomatic echelons have been stressing since the fateful day, CNN didn’t need to rely on someone who spoke “on condition of anonymity.” It would have done better to prod Abbas and his henchmen on why they are hindering a probe if they have nothing to hide.

The mere thought of this possibility is laughable, of course, which may be a contributing factor in CNN’s sinking ratings. Only anti-Zionists and self-defined “progressives” are willing to buy the Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad line that Israel intentionally assassinates innocent people, even journalists dispatched to a combat zone for the purpose of vilifying the Jewish state and its army.

Anyone with half a brain realizes that Abu Akleh was caught in a crossfire, regardless of the origin of the bullet, and that Jerusalem, not Ramallah, wishes to get at the truth, whatever it is.

FURTHERMORE, as recently appointed Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization of Israel Noa Tishby explained in a TikTok video-gone-viral, Abu Akleh wasn’t the first war reporter killed on the job in the past three decades. She is simply the one who instantly became a household name for the wrong reasons.

“Here are some facts you may not know,” she began, in a minute-and-a-half clip that circulated on all social-media platforms. “The International Federation of Journalists, the IFJ, conducted a report about the number of death cases of journalists in war zones between 1990 and 2020. According to the report, 2,658 journalists have been killed in that period of time. Three hundred forty were killed in Iraq, 178 in Mexico, 160 in the Philippines, 138 in Pakistan and 116 in India. Twelve of the cases were Al Jazeera journalists. Seven of them were killed in Syria, two in Iraq, one in Yemen, one in Libya and one case from last week.”

She went on: “Each one of these deaths is horrific, but you can’t name the other 2,657 journalists. You can only name the one [who] was killed in clashes between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli army. In any of the other deaths, we did not see such vitriol, hateful, horrific reactions and rhetoric as we’ve seen by the international community, social media, celebrities and the United Nations towards Israel.”

This, she reminded viewers, “is what we call a double standard… and it’s purely rooted in sometimes subconscious antisemitism, anti-Jewish racism. So, please, just think about that for a minute, as well. Okay? And rest in peace, Shireen.”

Amen. Abu Akleh didn’t deserve to die. Not so CNN, which merits a painful and humiliating demise.