The death of Shireen Abu Akleh is a tragedy. No journalist should die in the line of their work and I send my condolences to her family and loved ones. Israel values the freedom of the press and holds the protection of journalists as a fundamental principle.
This is just one reason why I was so disappointed to read your recent editorial.
Israel is fighting a deadly wave of terror attacks that in the last weeks have claimed 19 innocent lives. Many of these attacks have originated in the West Bank city of Jenin. Rabbi Avishai Yehezkel, a 29-year-old father of one, Yaakov Shalom, a 36-year-old father of five, and Amir Khoury, an Arab Israeli who was engaged to be married, are just 3 of those who were murdered by terrorists from Jenin.
This is not resistance; it is cold blooded murder that must be condemned, rather than praised and justified.
And it is in this context that on May 11, Israeli security forces operated in Jenin to prevent yet another deadly terror attack that was aimed at innocent civilians. Here they were confronted by a group of heavily armed gunmen, affiliated with the Islamic Jihad – a designated terror group, and it is in this fraught combat situation that Shireen was killed.
Since her death, Israel has called for an impartial joint investigation by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with United States involvement. The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to investigate. They have also refused to release the bullet that killed Shireen so that the joint team can examine it and determine who fired it. Israel’s primary concern is finding out the truth. The Palestinians are engaged in a battle to delegitimise and demonise Israel.
Anyone who makes claims about their certainty that Israel is responsible for Shireen’s death, while totally absolving the Palestinians, is doing so with an agenda.
And that agenda becomes clear in the rest of your editorial when the baseless, offensive and false charge of “apartheid” is thrown at the democratic State of Israel. It is also an insult to the millions of black South Africans and others who have suffered under true apartheid regimes. There can be no greater way to prove what a lie it is than looking at the current government of Israel. A ruling coalition made up of seven different political parties including the Israeli Arab Islamic Raam party, and whose leader, MansourAbbas, rejected the report that your editorial refers to.
Apartheid in South Africa created a society that provided privilege for the white minority and condemned black and coloured South African. Apartheid controlled every aspect of life, it decreed where you could work, what bus you could take, what university you went to, what hospital treated you and what café you could sit in. South African apartheid enforced laws based on the colour of your skin and on that basis denied people the vote or any other form of civil rights.
In Israel, all citizens, Jews and Arabs, have full political and civil rights. The Supreme Court has an Arab judge, the head of surgery in a leading hospital is Arab, and Arabs head university departments. Arabs and Jews learn at the same universities where they are taught by Arab and Jewish lecturers. In hospitals and clinics, Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses, secular and religious, work together, giving care equally to Jewish and Arab patients.
- E. Michael Freeman, Ambassador of the State of Israel to Nigeria