IDF acknowledges ‘strong possibility’ of killing journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Star of Al Jazeera, the American-Palestinian journalist was shot dead on May 11 while covering an Israeli military operation in the Palestinian camp of Jenin, a stronghold of the Palestinian armed factions in the north of the occupied West Bank, where a special unit was trying to apprehend “suspects”which led to armed clashes.

After the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, equipped with a bullet-proof vest with the words “press” and a helmet, the Palestinian Authority and her employer Al Jazeera immediately accused the Israeli army of having killed her. Israel has repeatedly denied this accusation, despite journalistic investigations and a UN report concluding that an Israeli shot was fired, which however ruled out that it was deliberate.

However, on Monday, the Israeli army published the “final conclusions” of his investigation and admitted that one of his soldiers had indeed fired in the direction of the journalist, mistaking his identity: “There is a strong possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by Israeli army fire which was aimed at suspects identified as Palestinian gunmen”.

The army said it had studied “chronologically” the sequence of events, analyzed the locations, videos and sounds recorded on site, conducted a “scene simulation” and that “Israeli experts” carried out a ballistic analysis of the bullet on July 2, in the presence of representatives of the “United States Security Coordination Committee for Israel and the Palestinian Authority”.

Due to the “poor condition of the ball”identifying its origin was “hard”underlines the army in its report, saying that it is not certain “unequivocal” of the origin of the fatal shooting to the journalist.

Misunderstanding the target?

Like the Israeli army, the United States had concluded that Shireen Abu Akleh had “presumably” was killed by fire from an Israeli position, without having reason to believe that her death was intentional.

“The soldier was not looking to target an Al Jazeera reporter or a journalist in general. (…) The soldier misidentified his target and he is sorry”a senior Israeli military official said in a press briefing on Monday. “It shouldn’t have happened, he didn’t do it on purpose”he added.

This official indicated that the soldier, posted about 200 meters behind the journalist, had not seen his “press” inscription on the front of his bulletproof vest. He said the journalist had been shot in the back of the head.

The Israeli military prosecutor’s office on Monday announced that it “there was no suspicion of a criminal act justifying the opening of a criminal investigation by the military police” and this, although there is a “high probability” that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli soldiers.

Relatives demand ‘credible’ US investigation

Relatives of the journalist, who lived in Jerusalem, had unsuccessfully requested to meet US President Joe Biden during his July visit to the Holy City.

At the invitation of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, members of the Abu Akleh family nonetheless traveled to Washington to meet with senior US officials.

The Abu Akleh family on Monday accused the Israeli authorities of “to avoid taking responsibility for the murder” of the journalist, in a statement issued in the wake of the Israeli investigation report. “We remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed”the family pointed out, asking for a US investigation “credible”.

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