Cornerstone laid for Shireen Abu Akleh press museum in Palestine | Israel-Palestine conflict news
Ramallah, which took over the West Bank – Officials of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Al Jazeera Media Network laid a cornerstone for Shireen Abu Akleh’s press museum in Ramallah in central Israel-occupied West Bank on the first anniversary of her death .
Abu Akleh, a television journalist with Al Jazeera for 25 years, was killed by Israeli forces on May 11, 2022, while reporting on an Israeli military attack in the West Bank city of Jenin.
“Shireen was the witness and the martyr,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said at Thursday’s ceremony.
“Today, we immortalize the memory of Shireen Abu Akleh in this museum, which documents Palestinian journalism and media.”
Abu Akleh’s family, Ramallah Mayor Issa Kassis and other officials attended the event, as well as the head of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Nasser Abu Bakr, and several diplomatic and civil society figures.
“We will continue to pursue these killers, these criminals. We do not believe in the investigation committee they appointed, or its findings. We want there to be an independent investigation,” said Shtayyeh to Abu Akleh’s brother as he unveiled the cornerstone.
The museum is expected to open in 2025, on 4,709sq m (50,687 sq ft) of land allocated by the Ramallah district. While Al Jazeera has undertaken construction costs, the city will be in charge of the museum once it is open to the public.
Abu Akleh, 51, was killed on May 11, 2022, while reporting on the Israeli army’s attack on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. She was wearing a jumpsuit and helmet, and was standing with other journalists when she was killed.
Although the Israeli army admitted in September 2022 that its soldiers “most likely” killed Shireen, the Israeli government has prevented an independent investigation to this day, and has continued to out that they will not be responsible for the murder.
Legacy of Abu Akleh
Last week, the President of Kassis and Al Jazeera Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani signed the agreement for the construction of the museum, at the headquarters of the network in Doha, Qatar.
Ahmad Abu Laban, the general director of the city of Ramallah, said that the museum will have several parts.
“The first part is a presentation of Abu Akleh’s journalistic legacy and professional journey. There will be a second exhibition of murdered Palestinian journalists, and the third part focuses on the journey and history of Palestinian media,” Abu Laban told Al Jazeera, adding that the museum will host activities and events regular to the public.
Abu Laban said the museum is the “fourth landmark” in Ramallah, along with three others: the Yasser Arafat Museum, the Mahmoud Darwish Museum, and the Nelson Mandela statue.
He said that he believes that such a project is important to show efforts “by the occupation, through the murder of Palestinian journalists and images, to silence the truth”.
“These people, however, will live among us, through their legacy, and they will push the next generations forward, whether they are journalists or Palestinians, Abu Laban said.
Struggling with Palestinian journalists
Abed Alhafeez Jaawan, a Palestinian journalist working for Al Arabiya TV, told Al Jazeera that he believes “Shireen’s killing made the whole world pay attention to the suffering of Palestinian journalists in the field.” The targeting of journalists is an ongoing reality. As long as we are in the field, there will be those who do not like our work and will target us.”
“A museum like this is important for documenting the work of Palestinian journalism and media, which played and will continue to play a very important role in the path of Palestinian liberation and independence,” Jaawan said at the ceremony.
The laying of the museum’s cornerstone was the final ceremony in an emotional week of events marking the one-year anniversary.
On Sunday, Abu Akleh’s friends and family held a memorial mass at al-Liqaa Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Beit Hanina, a resident of East Jerusalem. On Tuesday, a large memorial was held to honor her legacy at Ramallah’s Palace of Culture, attended by hundreds of Palestinians.
Those close to her are still in shock and pain.
“I used to see Shireen every day. She was a very close friend. We used to call each other every day. We used to share all our worries, our happy times, our sad times. She is a beautiful person in friendship, in travel, in everything,” Iman Hammouri, who was a close friend of Abu Akleh, told Al Jazeera.
“Unfortunately, Israel gets away with every crime. If he managed to get away with such a blatant crime, people feel defeated – they may never get justice for their cause. [But] if we manage to get justice for Shireen, I believe that will help build a foundation for Israel to be punished for all war crimes.”