US says Israeli shot ‘likely responsible’ for death of Abu Akleh

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US says Israeli shot ‘likely responsible’ for death of Abu Akleh

But US State Department says investigation inconclusive on the origin of the bullet that killed the Al Jazeera journalist.

A Palestinian woman takes pictures at the scene where Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead during an Israeli raid in Jenin [File: Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]

Published On 4 Jul 20224 Jul 2022

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Updated: 
9 minutes ago

The US State Department has said that independent investigators could “not reach a definitive conclusion” regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but said Israeli military gunfire was “likely responsible” for her death.

“Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion,” according to the statement on Monday.

The US Security Coordinator, by summarising investigations by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, also said on Monday the detailed forensic analysis showed no reason to believe that the shooting was intentional.

Abu Akleh was shot in the head on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, despite wearing a flak jacket and helmet clearly marked “PRESS”.

Palestinian officials, and many rights groups and media outlets, have reached the conclusion that Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh was killed by the Israeli military.

The United Nations human rights office last month said that information it had gathered showed that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was fired by Israeli forces. Several witnesses said Israeli forces killed the Jerusalem-born Abu Akleh.

A senior Palestinian official accused the United States of protecting Israel after the forensic examination failed to reach a firm conclusion on the origin of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh.

“The truth is clear but the US administration continues to stall in announcing it,” Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told Reuters news agency. “We say Israel killed Shireen Abu Akleh and it has to be held responsible for the crime it has committed.”

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington DC, said that the State Department’s statement on the shooting likely being unintentional “is a key issue” that will be widely questioned.

“There is no clear [finding] as to exactly what happened, and there is going to be pressure from the public, [and] from Congress, to actually push this further. To try and find some way in which a more definitive answer can be found,” he said.

“There is no clear definition of exactly what happened, why it happened, who did it.”

On Saturday, Akram al-Khatib, general prosecutor for the Palestinian Authority, said that officials had “agreed to transfer the bullet to the Americans for examination”.

However, conflicting reports over who would conduct the tests on the bullet emerged on Sunday, with an Israeli military spokesman telling Army Radio: “The test will not be American. The test will be an Israeli test, with an American presence throughout.”

More to follow.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies