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Abu Akleh’s killing another sad chapter in war against terror



Shireen Abu Akleh was well known to the Arab-speaking viewers of Al Jazeera. She had lived most of her life in Jerusalem, and for decades had reported on issues related to Israel and the Palestinians.

Abu Akleh was at the peak of her career, and her tragic death was absolutely unnecessary. Our sympathies are with her family, and we deeply regret their loss.

The circumstances surrounding her death are still unclear. Following a wave of terror against Israeli citizens, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was conducting an operation in the vicinity of Jenin to arrest those suspected of terrorist activities. During this operation, the terrorists used heavy fire and explosives against IDF soldiers, who were left with no other alternative but to return fire.

Abu Akleh was injured and died of her wounds during this exchange. It’s difficult to establish what happened, but in reviewing a video clip, the terrorists claimed that they had wounded a soldier and that they saw him lying on the ground. However, no Israeli soldiers were wounded in this encounter and there’s a very real possibility that the person that they mentioned was, in fact, Abu Akleh.

Israel continues to call on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to conduct a joint thorough investigation of this event. Regrettably, the answer has been no. Israel also asked to receive the bullet that killed Abu Akleh. This was also refused.

The Israeli suggestion to involve an independent expert in the investigation was ignored. Unfortunately, it seems that the PA isn’t really interested in the truth but rather in exploiting this tragedy for political gain in attempting to influence popular opinion.

It’s even more tragic that Abu Akleh’s funeral was also exploited for political purposes and was turned into a riot and an opportunity to seed hatred for Israel.

Terrorism is the greatest scourge of our times and as its name implies, aimed at terrorising. This aim is achieved by the indiscriminate killing of civilians – men, women, and children. It’s something we in Israel are unfortunately all too familiar with.

Abu Akleh has become one more victim in the war against terror. Her face is the latest of those impacted by this scourge. Being a well-known personality, her death has generated expressions of grief and condemnation from many public figures and organisations. And yet, the indiscriminate and cold-blooded terror it represents is still consuming the lives of innocent people whose only crime is to be Israelis. Unfortunately, their stories are unknown, and nobody outside of Israel knows their names.

On the eve of 5 May, an Israeli driver, Oren Ben Yiftah, 35 years old, gave a lift to two Palestinians near the city of Elad in Israel. The Palestinians, armed with knives and an axe, stabbed the driver to death. They entered a municipal park and started a killing spree in which they killed two more and wounded four. Sixteen children have become orphans as a result of only this attack.

Barak Lofen, aged 35, was murdered, together with two other young people, while sitting in a coffee shop in the middle of Tel Aviv on 7 April by a terrorist armed with a pistol. On 22 March, Laura Yitzhak, aged 43, was on her work shift at a petrol station in the southern city of Beer Sheba. Within moments she was stabbed to death by a terrorist. On 29 March, Avishay Yehezkiel, aged 29, was walking with his two-year-old son on the streets of Bnei Brak next to Tel Aviv. He was shot by a terrorist while protecting his child.

These are only a few names in the terrible roster of terror victims. And the names keep piling up. Israel continues to pay a terrible price for its existence, a price more often than not counted in human lives.

These people and thousands of others were intentionally killed because, someone incited the killers and someone sent them. Unfortunately, many organisations and even countries have turned terror into a business. This is true regarding Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Isis, Hezbollah, and Iran. For them, terror is a legitimate tool to achieve their aims.

And yet, interestingly enough, the sponsors of these horrendous terror acts seem to enjoy immunity from reprisals, the calls of incitement to terror continue to be sounded without any condemnation, and the watchful eye of the so-called “human-rights organisations” seem to ignore, conveniently, the human right to life of the citizens of the state of Israel.

Terrorism won’t stop without decisive measures by the entire international community against those who incite, who call people to conduct terrorist acts, who glorify the perpetrators.

There can be no tolerance of terror. There’s no doubt that though today it’s the Israelis that are mainly affected, tomorrow, without decisive action, everybody will be at risk.

  • Eli Belotsercovsky is the Israeli ambassador to South Africa.
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