Washington Says Unintentional Israeli Shooting 'Likely' Killed Christian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
The United States ruled on Monday that Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was "likely" killed by gunfire from an Israeli position, with no reason to believe her death was intentional.
The American experts, to whom the Palestinian Authority had entrusted the bullet having killed Al-Jazeera star correspondent while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, on May 11, however, could not reach a definitive conclusion as to the origin of the projectile, said State Department spokesman Ned Price , in a press release.
These conclusions immediately gave rise to contrasting reactions: the Jewish state insisted on the fact that it had itself carried out an examination of the famous bullet, in the presence of American security officials, even as the Palestinian Authority s was still refused to entrust him with the ball, while the Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, denounced on Twitter an attempt to "hide the truth".
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, called for an international investigation and accused the United States of being "accomplices" in the journalist's death.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid regretted in a press release the “tragic” death of Ms. Abu Akleh and indicated that the investigation of the Jewish state had concluded that “there had been no intention to harm him” .
Israeli fire, according to the UN
The death of this much-loved and recognized Al Jazeera journalist has rocked the Middle East.
Equipped with a bulletproof vest clearly marked with the words "press" and a helmet, she had been shot in the head and another journalist had been shot and injured when they surrendered on the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of the Palestinian armed factions where Israeli forces were carrying out a raid that day.
Both the Palestinian Authority and Al-Jazeera, as well as the channel's funding country, Qatar, immediately accused the Israeli army of killing her.
Israel has consistently denied these accusations, saying it is impossible to know the exact origin of the shooting, Israeli or Palestinian, and continues to rule out deliberate shooting in any case.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded on June 24 that the Israeli army was responsible. while excluding, like the United States, a deliberate shooting, an investigation nevertheless rejected as "unfounded" by the Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz.
The “appalled” family continues to demand justice
For its part, the journalist's family said they were "appalled" by the lack of a formal conclusion as to the origin of the shooting, in a press release shared on Twitter.
“We will continue to demand justice for Shireen and that the Israeli military and government be held accountable, despite attempts to mask the reality of what happened on May 11,” they wrote.
The Palestinian authorities had always refused to hand over the fatal projectile to the Israeli army and had finally entrusted it to the Americans in the hope of an independent expertise.
But the Israeli army said on Monday it had conducted a "ballistic examination" of the projectile - 5,56 mm caliber and fired by a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, according to the Palestinian prosecutor - in the presence of "officials American security guards.
In its statement, the US State Department simply states that the “extremely detailed scientific analysis” was carried out by “independent and third-party experts, in a process supervised” by the United States. .
A Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity on Sunday that the possibility of Israel examining the bullet entrusted to the United States raised questions about whether the Americans could be "trusted". .
For the rest of their analysis, the US authorities say they have had "full access" to the investigations of the Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority in recent weeks.
"The United States (...) continues to encourage cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in this important matter" and "urges accountability" in the matter, added Ned Price.
These latest developments come less than ten days before a visit by US President Joe Biden to Israel and the West Bank as part of his first tour of the Middle East since assuming the White House.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)