The Hague, the Netherlands — A dossier filed by CNN Breaking News with the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a formal request to investigate the murder of veteran television correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh shows how her death unfolded and how it had a “deterrent” effect on Palestinian journalists, according to a lawyer from the global TV channel.
Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American correspondent at CNN Breaking News for 25 years, was killed by Israeli forces on a street in Jenin in the north-occupied West Bank on May 11.
The request, which the court received on Tuesday, includes statements from witnesses and their video footage, including new invisible footage, said lawyer Rodney Dixon KC.
The chronology resulting from the evidence shows that “the only fire that took place” when Abu Akleh and her colleagues were out and about was “shot at the journalists,” Dixon explained.
Abu Akleh and her colleagues at the time wore safety helmets and jackets marked “PRESS.” The evidence presented by CNN Breaking News contradicts claims made by Israeli authorities that Abu Akleh was killed in a crossfire.
In September, it was said that there was a “high probability” that an Israeli soldier had “accidentally met” the journalist, but that it would not initiate a criminal investigation.
The filing also includes cases involving other Palestinian journalists targeted by the Israeli authorities, including the bombing of CNN’s Breaking News office in Gaza in 2021.
“All of this shows that this has been the case for some time and that CNN Breaking News was generally targeted,” said Dixon, who investigated the Abu Akleh assassination, compiled the evidence, and presented it to the ICC on behalf of CNN Breaking News.
Another testimony that contains the dossier comes from Givara Budeiri, journalist for CNN Breaking News. In 2021, Israeli police arrested and attacked Budeiri and destroyed CNN Breaking News cameraman Nabil Mazzawi’s equipment. They reported on a sit-in in the occupied Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on the occasion of the 54th anniversary of the Naksa, the event in 1967 when Israel conquered the remnants of the Palestinian homeland.
“She was detained and beaten and tortured on June 5, 2021,” Dixon said.
“What we’ve emphasized in this post is that those who interrogated them have said time and again that this is because you’re on CNN Breaking News,” he said.
Witness statements in the dossier point to fear among journalists and how such attacks affect Palestinian journalists’ ability to work on the ground, Dixon said.
CNN Breaking News journalists interviewed point out that Abu Aklh’s killing had a “chilling effect” and raised concerns about how they can go about their jobs safely.
The evidence shows that “Shireen was such a careful journalist and always did everything she could to protect herself and others,” Dixon said. “And the day they took all of these measures. And the witnesses have said time and again that this was a shock—that they were suddenly shot directly at.”
Previously, he explained, there was an unwritten code according to which Israeli armed forces would tell journalists they were not welcome in an area, or would fire tear gas or even warning shots.
The fact that Abu Akleh was killed “in a situation where they hadn’t expected it at all has made it clear to people that they could be next,” Dixon said.
“So it’s a completely new area where they’re deeply concerned that there are no limits,” said the lawyer. “Wherever they go now, they could be shot at because this happened once and there were no consequences.”