US says Israeli gunfire killed Shireen Abu Akleh, but not “deliberately”

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TEL AVIV – A US-led analysis of forensic and ballistic evidence, as well as the separate Israeli and Palestinian investigation, found that the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh likely came from an Israeli soldier, but added that there is “no reason to believe this was intentional,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

Price said investigators concluded that the bullet that struck Abu Akleh — a longtime correspondent for Al Jazeera News who was shot on May 11 while reporting an Israeli military attack in the West Bank city of Jenin — “was heavily damaged. was”, leaving “a clear conclusion.” The statement sparked angry reactions from her family and Palestinian officials.

The Palestinian Authority handed the bullet to the US security coordinator on Saturday, in response to a long-standing demand from Israel. Since the incident, Israel has claimed that without the bullet, it would not be able to determine whether Abu Akleh had been shot by an Israeli rifle or by weapons belonging to armed Palestinians in the area at the time of the shooting.

How Shireen Abu Akleh Was Killed

“The USSC found no reason to believe this was intentional, but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022 in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks. attacks in Israel. The statement said, citing a series of Palestinian attacks in Israel in recent months, with some of the attackers coming from Jenin and the surrounding area.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that “the IDF investigation was unable to determine who is responsible for the tragic death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but it was able to establish conclusively that it was not intended to harm her. . Israel expresses sorrow over her death.”

On the day of Abu Akleh’s assassination, IDF spokesman Ran Kochav said it was “probable” that she was killed by armed Palestinians before the military later returned, admitting that an Israeli sniper may have been responsible.

The investigation, which the Israeli military said has stalled over the Palestinian refusal to transfer the bullet, was lurking during President Biden’s July 13-16 visit to the Middle East, his first as president.

The assassination of Abu Akleh has sparked outrage and has thrown an international spotlight on what Palestinians and human rights activists have for years called a policy of impunity in the Israeli military.

Brother of murdered journalist asks for US help to hold Israel to account

Palestinian officials immediately called Abu Akleh’s assassination a “murder.” Last month, the Palestinian Authority released the results of its own investigation and said she was killed by a 5.56mm round fired from a Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle, though it did not say whether that model was used by one or both parties. – who exchanged fire on the morning of Abu Akleh’s assassination.

In response to the announcement from the State Department, Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, told the Palestinian news agency that officials believed the United States wanted to protect Israel. He said that in the absence of US support, the Palestinian Authority would pursue the case at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“We will not allow any attempts to hide the truth or make shy references when pointing the finger of blame at Israel,” al-Sheikh said.

The Israeli group B’Tselem, which documents Israeli violations in the Palestinian territories, said in a statement that “the chances of those responsible for the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh being held accountable are almost nonexistent.”

UN rights organization says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank

On June 24, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Israel was the most likely source of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh. The UN’s findings — along with studies published by The Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN and the research group Bellingcat — fueled a growing call for the United States to press more publicly for a thorough and transparent investigation.

In June, 24 senators called for the United States to be “directly involved in the investigation” of the case, while Abu Akleh’s brother, Anton, said America should take the case completely from the Israeli military.

“The focus on the bullet has always been misplaced and was an attempt by the Israelis to turn the story in its favor,” the Abu Akleh family said in a statement.

The statement said the family had hoped, and still hopes, that the FBI or other US authority would consider Abu Akleh’s death grounds for a “murder investigation.”

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