Around the world, journalists are brazenly killed and disappeared. One word is consistently repeated in discussions about the trend: impunity.

By David Boddinger, The Progressive Magazine

There is a shaky cellphone video that’s haunted me since the day I first saw it. It shows the horrifying aftermath of the cold-blooded killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who died in early May while covering an Israeli army operation in the West Bank town of Jenin for Al Jazeera.

protesters carring photos of Shireen Abu Akleh, Lod may 22

What stands out to me most from the footage of that horrific assault—which multiple journalistic investigations and the U.N. Human Rights Office have determined was likely carried out by members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)—is Abu Akleh’s colleague, Shatha Hanaysha, who is as she is pinned down by gunfire beneath a small tree, just a few feet from Abu Akleh’s lifeless body. I’ll never forget Hanaysha’s expressions of trauma, grief, and panic during those devastating moments of abject violence.

The circumstances of Abu Akleh’s killing—she and her colleagues were wearing clothing clearly identifying them as press, and they had alerted Israeli officials of their presence—reveal a disturbing pattern of brazenness by her killers that has become increasingly common, not only in the West Bank, but around the world. The number of journalists killed and disappeared globally is troubling, and while the circumstances of each crime vary, one word is consistently repeated in discussions about the trend: impunity.

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