Israeli forces deliberately shot Shireen Abu Aqleh, Palestinian investigation finds | Palestinian territories

A Palestinian investigation into the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh has concluded that she was deliberately killed by Israeli forces as she tried to flee, the Palestinian Authority (PA) said.

The finding echoed the results of a preliminary investigation announced nearly two weeks ago and was widely expected. Israel rejected the findings, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz calling them a “blatant lie”.

Abu Aqleh, a veteran Palestinian-American journalist with Al Jazeera’s Arabic service, was shot in the head on May 11 during an Israeli military raid in Jenin, a city in the occupied West Bank.

Witnesses and Palestinian officials said she was hit by Israeli fire. Israel said she was shot in a battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants, adding that only a ballistic analysis of the bullet – which is held by the Palestinian Authority (PA) – and the soldiers’ weapons can determine who fired the fatal shot.

Announcing the results of his investigation at a press conference in Ramallah, Palestinian Attorney General Akram al-Khateeb said he had determined that there were no militants in the immediate vicinity of Abu Akleh.

“The only shots were fired by the occupying forces, with the intention of killing,” he said.

Abu Aqleh was among a group of journalists wearing helmets and protective vests marked “press”. Khateeb said the army had seen the journalists and knew they were journalists.

He accused Israel of shooting Abu Aqleh “directly and deliberately” as she tried to escape. He also repeated the Palestinian position that the bullet would not be handed over to the Israelis for study, adding that it had been decided not to even show images “to deprive [Israel] of a new lie.

Khateeb said his investigation was based on interviews with witnesses, a scene inspection and a forensic report.

In a speech later Thursday, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, said it was impossible to know who fired the bullet and again called on the Palestinians to cooperate to “get to the bottom” of the case. What happened.

“But there is one thing that can be determined with certainty,” he said. “No soldier intentionally shot a journalist. We investigated this. We checked it. This is the conclusion. There are no more.

Israel denies targeting journalists and has offered two possible scenarios, saying Abu Aqleh was shot dead by Palestinian militants recklessly firing at an Israeli army convoy or that she was hit by Israeli fire aimed at an activist nearby. The military has identified the rifle that could have been used in this scenario, but says it must test the bullet to make a final decision.

An AP reconstruction of the events lent support to witnesses who say she was shot by Israeli troops, even though she was wearing a helmet and vest that clearly identified her as media. But the reconstruction said it was impossible to reach a conclusive conclusion without further forensic analysis.

Palestinian witnesses said there were no militants or clashes near Abu Aqleh. The only known militants in the area were on the other side of the convoy, about 300 meters from its position.

They had no direct line of sight, unlike the convoy itself which was about 200 yards away on a long straight road.

Israel publicly called for a joint investigation with the PA, including US participation, and asked the PA to hand over the bullet for testing. But the US State Department said on Wednesday it had received no formal request for assistance from either side two weeks after Abu Aqleh’s death.

The PA has refused to cooperate with Israel, saying Israel cannot be trusted to investigate its own conduct. Rights groups say Israel has a poor track record of investigating when security forces fire on Palestinians, with cases often languishing for months or years before being quietly closed.

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, said Thursday’s report would be shared with the US administration. Copies would also be given to Abu Aqleh’s family and Al Jazeera, he said.

The Palestinians say they will also share their findings with international parties, including the International Criminal Court, which launched an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes last year. Israel dismissed this investigation as being biased against her and not cooperating with her.

The grave mistrust means that Israeli and Palestinian investigations into Abu Aqleh’s death are proceeding separately, with neither accepting the other’s findings.

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