Palestinians never cared about Shireen Abu Akleh - opinion

The Palestinians should apologize for exploiting Shireen Abu Akleh's tragic death for propaganda. They hate Israel more than they love their own people.

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

It's no secret that I strongly disagreed with the way the Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, portrayed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After all, Al Jazeera is fully funded and owned by the State of Qatar – the same country that provides millions of dollars to Hamas annually.

Shireen Abu Akleh was tragically killed on May 11 while reporting about an armed clash between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli troops in Jenin, Samaria.

Videos from the scene showed Palestinian terrorists opening fire from civilian neighborhoods and civilian rooftops onto Israeli forces. Any respected media outlet would immediately ask why they were shooting from civilian streets, between homes. Likewise, they would at least raise the possibility that perhaps Abu Akleh was killed by those terrorists. But because Israel is involved, such questions don't apply.

Before an investigation was even conducted, the UN, together with the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and other mainstream media outlets, blamed Israel for her death and called for an investigation. Usually, one investigates first and only then attribute blame after considering all the facts. Yet, this is rarely the case when it comes to Israel, if ever. In fact, it's almost always the opposite.

For two months, the Palestinian Authority refused to hand over the bullet that killed the journalist to investigators. This raises the question –  if Palestinians have nothing to hide, and if it's clear that she was killed by Israel – why did they refuse to give the bullet to a third party, only relenting after receiving significant American pressure? Because the longer they let the mystery of Abu Akleh's death simmer, the longer they could exploit the tragedy.

Family and friends carry the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin in Jenin, May 13, 2022. (Credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)Family and friends carry the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin in Jenin, May 13, 2022. (Credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

The bullet was not the sole factor exploited by Palestinians for propaganda purposes, but Abu Akleh's funeral was as well.

You may have witnessed the horrible videos and photos of Israeli police seemingly striking the innocent-looking Palestinians carrying Abu Akleh's coffin.

But here is the unseen truth that you have likely never heard before. 

The Israeli police and Abu Akleh's family were in close contact prior to the funeral in order to arrange a proper ceremony with the protection of the Israeli police. This protection was not from potential Israeli protesters but from Palestinian radicals who would later attempt to steal the body and use it for political warfare against Israel.

According to Israeli police, on the day of the funeral, a member of Shireen's family called to complain that a Palestinian crowd kidnapped her body from St. Louis French Hospital in Jerusalem without any permission from the family. These extremists took the body of the deceased journalist, disrespected the family's will, and held a faux funeral procession because they knew that Israeli police would try to stop this unauthorized mockery. They would then have great videos and photos of supposed "brutal Israeli forces" that they could post on social media to further tarnish Israel's image.

Unfortunately, they succeeded. The media never reported the truth about the videos. Israel was blamed, and the Palestinians celebrated another propaganda victory – at the cost of disrespecting Shireen Abu Akleh and her family. These Palestinians never cared about Shireen Abu Akleh, nor do they now. They will not shed a tear together with Shireen's mourning family. They are more interested in shedding blood because they hate Israel more than they love their own people.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once famously said: "We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." But in fact, Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders and radicals do. Israel treats Palestinians in our hospitals and gives them the best medical treatment by Jewish and Arab Israeli doctors. When I visited Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, I saw children from Gaza smiling after getting medical treatment in Israel. The world doesn't know the truth about Israel, but the Palestinians know it very well. Otherwise, they wouldn't seek help from the Israelis when they need it. They know the truth – but are too afraid to speak it because of the radicals in their society.

Hananya Naftali is a leading Israeli Jewish influencer and human rights activist in the fight against antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and the BDS Movement.

This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Adam Milstein.