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Shireen Abu Akleh: Today, all Palestinians are mourning

This morning, a beep on my cellphone woke me up at 8am. It was a notification from a Telegram channel known as “Martyrs of Palestine”. I wasn’t shocked. It is, after all, commonplace for us Palestinians to get up to the information of a number of of us having been killed in a raid by Israeli occupation forces – within the West Bank, such raids occur nearly each evening, simply earlier than the break of daybreak.

But I froze once I really learn the brief message: “Shireen Abu Akleh – 51 years old – 11/05/2022 – Jenin Refugee Camp”. I used to be positive it was a mistake, a notification despatched in error.

As I attempted to course of what I had simply learn, my WhatsApp and Twitter feeds acquired flooded with information, pictures, and movies of Shireen. It was true. She had been killed – murdered. I used to be horrified. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. I can’t cease crying nonetheless, hours later, as I write this.

Shireen Abu Akleh was an icon in Palestine and the Arab world. She was beloved and revered by all. Her immaculate journalistic fame preceded her. Her face and her voice had been in our households day by day. She spoke from Palestine, and was heard by the whole world. She gave voice to the unvoiced, and by no means backed down from her dedication to her work.

So many journalists from my era and even older ready for the occupation by standing in entrance of their mirrors, or a bunch of pals, and repeating her iconic sign-off: “Shireen Abu Akleh, Aljazeeeera, Filasteen”.

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For me, she was a lot, far more than knowledgeable position mannequin. As a toddler, she was the primary, and for a really very long time, the one celeb I knew by identify and admired.

I used to be a younger little one in the course of the second Intifada. In 2002, once I was simply seven, I lived by way of the Israeli navy’s large-scale incursions into the West Bank. I heard tanks rolling down the streets, assault helicopters firing overhead, home windows shattering because of air assaults.

I couldn’t exit most days, so the tv in our home was my solely window to the skin world. Shireen, together with a couple of of her colleagues, had been continuously on the display. I questioned: “Do they ever tire? Do they ever feel scared?” I admired her and her group a lot.

Around that point, I began making scrapbooks. Every day, I’d take the day’s newspapers from my dad as soon as he was carried out studying them and minimize out footage from them, glueing them into my scrapbook. Once, I discovered a really small photograph of Shireen in {a magazine}. I minimize out the tiny photograph and caught it to the within cowl of my scrapbook. I believed she ought to be on the very first web page. I used to be an enormous fan. She was a hero to me.

That identical yr, I additionally had the possibility to satisfy Shireen for the primary time. One day, I had insisted on becoming a member of my father, who was additionally a journalist, in visiting al-Muqata’a, the headquarters of the late Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat.

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Al-Muqata’a had been destroyed. The proof of shelling was all round us, and the smashed autos littered the courtyard. What I had been seeing on TV was out of the blue beneath my ft. As they had been colleagues in journalism, my dad knew Shireen. He requested her to satisfy me and informed her in regards to the cut-out image I had glued into my scrapbook. I used to be shy and felt embarrassed, however I nonetheless bear in mind how she greeted me, talking gently to a seven-year-old who needed to develop as much as be a courageous journalist like her and my father.

Years handed, instances modified, and tv screens grew to become saturated with Palestinian journalists, reporting courageously from the bottom. But Shireen remained a revered veteran. She was one of many first, who impressed an entire new era of journalists to inform the story of Palestine, and over time she at all times remained one of the vital devoted to the job. Every budding TV journalist knew her and admired her. She had a grandstanding within the native journalistic neighborhood.

During the previous two years, I used to be among the many journalists who had the privilege of reporting alongside her in Jerusalem. We confronted down the brutality of Israeli forces, collectively. I felt secure in her presence. She was a towering determine and a mentor.

Shireen by no means relented in her dedication to journalism, to town of Jerusalem, to all of Palestine and the Palestinian individuals right here and overseas. All who knew her would communicate fondly of her superb spirit, her open coronary heart, and her exemplary braveness and professionalism within the line of responsibility.

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Last month, we marked 20 years since Israel carried out the Jenin refugee camp bloodbath. A younger Shireen was there, reporting from The Battle of Jenin. I vividly bear in mind seeing her experiences on the TV display; there have been Israeli tanks and destroyed properties within the backdrop, again in 2002.

Twenty years later, we misplaced Shireen, killed by the identical invading occupation forces, in the identical refugee camp.

Today, each Palestinian family is mourning. Every Palestinian is in shock, processing this nice loss. We Palestinians know dying; we all know it nicely. But we are not numb to the ache of shedding our family members, our heroes, our icons, our futures again and again to the Israeli occupation. Every time, we grieve. We mourn, however we additionally develop extra steadfast and extra decided.

Shireen as soon as stated: “It isn’t easy for me to change reality, but the least I can do is to have our voice reach the world.” In her life, Shireen delivered her message, and gave a voice to the unvoiced in probably the most highly effective method. We will proceed her mission. And quickly, Palestine will probably be free.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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