Who are the ‘witnesses’? CNN probe into death of Al-Jazeera journalist hides relevant facts

What CNN does not inform its readers is that the witness is not just a ‘Palestinian journalist,’ but someone who openly expresses support for Palestinian terrorists.

By Rachel O’Donoghue, Honest Reporting

CNN has published an “investigation” into the killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh that arrives at an outrageous conclusion: the Al-Jazeera journalist was “targeted” by Israeli security forces.

CNN’s pronouncement is a result of a number of witness accounts and apparent “expert” testimony, which the news outlet includes in its 3,000-word piece published on Tuesday.

Before considering these testimonies, it is helpful to reiterate the undisputed facts of the tragic incident:

  • Abu Akleh had worked for state-owned Qatari channel Al-Jazeera for 25 years and had an extensive background in reporting on Israeli-Palestinian affairs.
  • On May 11, Israeli forces entered the city of Jenin to conduct an arrest raid following a spate of terrorist attacks in Israel that claimed the lives of 19 Israelis.
  • Jenin is a hub for terrorist activities and is known as a stronghold for the Gaza-based terror group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – a reality that has been reported on by several media outlets.
  • Abu Akleh was shot in what evidence suggests was a firefight between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces in the narrow streets of Jenin.
  • Footage released hours after Abu Akleh’s death shows Palestinians wearing bullet-proof vests firing automatic weapons, including one militant who leans around a corner and indiscriminately shoots, at which point bystanders can be heard saying, “they’ve hit one, they’ve hit a soldier, he’s laying on the ground.” However, the IDF has confirmed that no Israeli soldiers were hit by gunfire or suffered any injuries.
  • The Palestinian authorities have repeatedly rejected Israel’s request to conduct a joint investigation into the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death and have refused to allow Israel to examine key pieces of evidence, including the bullet that killed her.

Despite these salient facts, CNN has opted to rely on the accounts of several eyewitnesses who have alleged Abu Akleh was not simply caught in Israeli crossfire, but that the killing was deliberate – suggestive of an act of murder.

One such witness is Shatha Hanaysha, who was next to Abu Akleh at the time of her death.

“They wanted to kill us,” Hanaysha told CNN. “This is why they shoot; I don’t have another reason why they shoot [sic]. And they know we are journalists.”

What CNN does not inform its readers of is that Hanaysha is not just a “Palestinian journalist” as the network describes her – she is someone who openly shares her extremist views on social media pages, 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.”

Another piece of witness testimony that CNN uses comes from “former parliamentarian and member of the Palestinian Fatah Party in Jenin,” Jamal Huwail, who alleges Israeli forces were deliberately targeting the journalists:

Jamal Huwail, a professor at the Arab American University in Jenin, who helped drag Abu Akleh’s lifeless body from the road, said he believed the shots 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.

‘They were shooting directly at the journalists,’ Huwail said.”

One can only imagine how credible CNN’s readers would find Huwail’s 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 proceeds to bolster its fantastical narrative with evidence from Chris Cobb, who the outlet calls an “explosive weapons expert.”

Using images provided by CNN, Cobb is reportedly able to ascertain that Abu Akleh was not killed by a “random shot,” but was “targeted.”

A quick search into Cobb’s background reveals he is far from the independent expert that CNN suggests. Rather, he is an advisor to Forensic Architecture, which has produced numerous pseudo-scientific investigations into Israel that have reached provenly biased and misleading conclusions (see herehere and here).

The aforementioned testimonies, as well as accounts from several Jenin residents, are what form the bulk of CNN’s piece, in addition to video footage that the publication itself admits “does not show Abu Akleh being shot.”

The fact remains that it is still not clear who killed Shireen Abu Akleh, whether it was a stray IDF bullet or fire from Palestinian gunmen who were attempting to prevent the arrest of terror suspects in Jenin.

By uncritically publishing the uncorroborated and outlandish claims of individuals who clearly have an anti-Israel ax to grind and presenting them as the unalloyed truth, CNN has effectively targeted Israel for character assassination.