JERUSALEM — Shireen Abu Akleh originally studied to become an architect, but her career took a different path after she decided to go into journalism instead and become one of the most well-known Palestinian journalists.
Ms. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American, became a familiar face on the Al Jazeera network, where she spent 25 years reporting and making a name for herself amid the violence of the Palestinian uprising known as the second intifada, which destroyed Israel and the occupied West Bank off the ground. in 2000.
“I chose journalism to be close to the people,” she said in a short film shared by Al Jazeera shortly after she was killed by gunfire in the West Bank on Wednesday. “It may not be easy to change reality, but at least I was able to bring their voice to the world.”
Ms. Abu Akleh was shot in the head in the West Bank city of Jenin, Al Jazeera and the Palestinian health ministry said, blaming Israeli forces for her death. The Israeli military further said: Twitter that “Palestinian armed gunfire” may have been responsible.
Born in Jerusalem to a Roman Catholic family, Ms. Abu Akleh studied in Jordan and obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism, according to the Palestinian agency Shehab News. She also spent time in the United States, where she received US citizenship.
Al Jazeera said that Mrs. Abu Akleh, after graduating from college, worked for a variety of media outlets, including Voice of Palestine radio and the Amman Satellite Channel, before joining Al Jazeera in 1997.
Ms. Abu Akleh quickly became a household name among Palestinians and Arabs in the Middle East, inspiring many to follow her path. Al Jazeera said she was 51 at the time of her death.
Her live TV coverage and autographs became iconic for those who wanted to imitate her, said Dalia Hatuqa, a Palestinian-American journalist and friend of Ms. Abu Akleh.
“I know a lot of girls who grew up actually standing in front of a mirror and holding their hair brushes and pretending to be Shireen,” Ms. Hatuqa said. “Her presence was so enduring and important.”
Her death also illustrated the dangers Palestinian journalists face in carrying out their jobs, whether in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or Israel, she said.
“Shireen was a pioneer,” she said. “I’m just sad she won’t be there to continue leading this industry.”
The Palestinian Authority ambassador to Britain, Husam Zomlot, called her the “most prominent Palestinian journalist”.