Israel. An Al Jazeera journalist was probably killed unintentionally by his forces

Palestinians sit in front of a mural depicting Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 13, 2022. REUTERS\Mussa Qawasma

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JERUSALEM, Sept 5 (Reuters) – The Israeli investigation into the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May has concluded that she was likely to have been inadvertently shot by an Israeli soldier but that she had not deliberately targeted, the army said on Monday.

Abu Akleh, a US-Palestinian citizen, was shot dead on May 11 while covering an Israeli military operation in the volatile city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank in circumstances that remain highly disputed.

The Israeli army says troops operating in Jenin came under heavy fire from all directions and fired back, including towards the area where Abu Akleh was standing about 200 meters from their position, but that they had no was unable to identify him as a journalist.

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He said “there is a strong possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) shots that were fired at suspects identified as Palestinian gunmen.” He added that it was also possible that she was hit by Palestinian gunmen.

The death of Abu Akleh, one of the most recognizable faces in reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for two decades, has sparked outrage around the world, particularly after police beat mourners during of his funeral in Jerusalem.

Other witness accounts of the incident disputed that Israeli positions were under fire from the area where Abu Akleh was standing when she was killed.

“All the evidence, the facts and the investigations that have been carried out have proven that Israel was the perpetrator and that he killed Shireen and that he should take responsibility for his crime,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, door -word of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abu Akleh’s family said they were ‘deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed’ by the Israeli statement which they said ‘attempted to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility for the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh’ .

The Israeli investigation, which included interviews with the country’s soldiers, an analysis of the scene as well as audio and video recordings, revealed that it was “not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the shots”. who killed Abu Akleh.

But Israel has repeatedly denied that she was knowingly targeted by its forces and said the investigation showed the soldiers acted within their rules of engagement.

“We can say with 100% certainty that no IDF soldier intentionally fired at a journalist or an uninvolved person on the ground,” said a senior military official who briefed reporters on the investigation’s findings. .

Walid al-Omari, the local bureau chief of Al Jazeera, told Reuters that Israel’s findings on the incident were an attempt to avoid an independent criminal investigation.

“Clearly they are trying to perpetuate ambiguity and deception on the one hand, while exculpating themselves of wrongdoing by claiming there was an exchange of fire,” he said. “These are all lies, as all accounts, videos and witnesses refute their claims.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the statement released by the Israeli military was “late and incomplete” and “does not provide the answers – by any measure of transparency or accountability – that his family and colleagues deserve”.

A report by the United Nations human rights office in June said that Abou Akleh stood with other journalists and was clearly identifiable as a journalist by his helmet and blue body armor marked with a press badge when she was shot with a single bullet. A colleague was injured in the incident by another bullet.

The report says that the information collected suggests that she was killed by an Israeli soldier.

Palestinian officials and Abu Akleh’s own family said they believed she was killed deliberately and they dismissed Israeli claims that there were militants near where she was standing.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement: “We welcome Israel’s review of this tragic incident, and re-emphasize the importance of accountability in this matter, as policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”

The forensic examination of the bullet that killed her, conducted under US supervision in July, came to no conclusion because the bullet was too badly damaged.

A US State Department report in July concluded that she was likely killed by gunfire from an Israeli position, but there was no evidence to suggest she was intentionally targeted by the forces. Israelis. Read more

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Reporting by James Mackenzie; additional reporting by Ismail Shakil; edited by Tomasz Janowski and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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