US says Israeli bullet ‘likely responsible’ for shooting death Shireen Abu Akleh

Protesters hold candles and a photo of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by Israeli forces while covering an Israeli military raid in Jenin on May 11, 2022

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

“Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion,” the United States government said in a statement on Monday.

“In addition to the forensic and ballistic analysis, the USSC was granted full access to both Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority (PA) investigations over the last several weeks.”

“By summarizing both investigations, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh,” the statement read.

“The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional,” the US claimed.

On Monday, the Israeli occupation said after concluding its investigation into the killing, that after a forensic examination they could not determine from which weapon the bullet was fired.

“The physical condition of the bullet and the quality of the characteristics on it do not enable a ballistic examination to conclusively determine whether or not the bullet was fired from the weapon which was examined,” the Israeli occupation forces said.

Abu Akleh’s family said in a statement it was “incredulous” that the examination could not determine whose gun fired the bullet that killed her.

“We will continue to advocate for justice for Shireen, and to hold the Israeli military and government accountable, no matter the attempts to obfuscate the reality of what happened on May 11,” it said.

A senior Palestinian official accused the US of protecting the Israeli occupation authorities after the forensic examination failed to reach a firm conclusion on the origin of the bullet.

“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 US 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, [or] who did it.”

Akram al-Khatib, general prosecutor for the Palestinian Authority, told Al Al Jazeera on Saturday 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.

An Israeli military spokesman told Israeli occupation Army Radio: “The test will not be American. The test will be an Israeli test, with an American presence throughout.”

Al-Khatib, meanwhile, told Voice of Palestine radio that officials had received “guarantees” from the US “that the examination will be conducted by them and that the Israeli side will not take part”.

In the last five weeks, the Biden administration has pressed the Palestinians to hand over the bullet, U.S. and Israeli officials told Axios. After refusing for weeks, the Palestinians in recent days signaled they might be willing to change course.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and asked him again to give the bullet to the US, a State Department official said, before US President Joe Biden visits ‘Israel’ and the occupied West Bank on July 13.

51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the head while she was covering an Israeli military raid into the Jenin refugee camp despite wearing a press vest on May 11, sparking international outrage and calls for accountability for attacks on journalists. The slain journalist covered events and Israeli aggressions in the occupied Palestinian territory for 25 years.

Multiple witnesses said that Israeli forces killed the veteran journalist. Reports by the investigative group Bellingcat, The Associated Press, CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times have also come to the same conclusion.

On June 24, the UN’s OHCHR also announced that information it had gathered showed that the bullets that killed Abu Akleh were fired by Israeli forces.

Spokesperson for the UN’s OHCHR, Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters in Geneva, “All information we have gathered is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians.”

The CNN investigation in May said evidence suggests that the veteran journalist was killed in a “targeted attack by Israeli forces”.

Al Jazeera Media Network also announced on May 26 that it had assigned a legal team to refer the killing to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

A probe by the Palestinian Authority found that Abu Akleh was deliberately shot by Israeli forces.

(Source / 05.07.2022)

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