The U.S. concludes that unintentional Israeli fire probably killed an American journalist

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

Price said investigators concluded the bullet struck Abu Akleh, a longtime news correspondent for Al Jazeera who was shot May 11 while covering an Israeli military raid on the city of Jenin , in the West Bank, “was badly damaged,” preventing “clarity.” conclusion. ” The statement provoked outraged responses from his family and Palestinian officials.

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday handed over the bullet to the U.S. Security Coordinator, in response to a long-standing demand from Israel. Since the incident, Israel has claimed that without the bullet, it could not determine whether Abu Akleh had been shot by an Israeli gun or by Palestinian gunmen in the area at the time of the shooting.

How Shireen Abu Akleh was killed

“The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional, but the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of the Islamic Palestinian Jihad on May 11, 2022 in Jenin, after a series of terrorist attacks on Israel, ”the statement said, referring to a series of Palestinian attacks on Israel in recent months in which several assailants came from Jenin and the surrounding area.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that “the IDF investigation could not determine who is responsible for the tragic death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but was able to conclusively determine that there was no intention to do so. Israel expresses its grief over his death. “

IDF spokesman Ran Kochav said on the day of Abu Akleh’s assassination that it was “likely” that she would be killed by armed Palestinians before the army later backed down and admitted it was possible that an Israeli sniper could having been responsible.

The investigation, which the Israeli army said had been halted due to Palestinian refusal to transfer the bullet, had been raised over President Biden’s July 13-16 visit to the Middle East, his first as president.

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

The murdered journalist’s brother asks the United States for help in holding Israel accountable

Palestinian officials immediately called Abu Akleh’s assassination a “murder.” Last month, the Palestinian Authority released the results of its own investigation and said it found it was killed by 5.56mm ammunition fired from a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, although it did not say whether this model was used by one or both. sides, who were exchanging fire on the morning of Abu Akleh’s assassination.

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

“We will not allow attempts to hide the truth or have timid references to point the finger at the prosecution,” al-Sheikh said.

Israeli group B’Tselem, which documents Israeli rapes in the Palestinian territories, said in a statement that “the chances of those responsible for the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh being held accountable are almost non-existent.”

UN rights body says Israeli soldiers killed US 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 findings of the UN, along with research published by The Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN and the Bellingcat research group, gave impetus to growing calls in the United States to push more publicly. a thorough and transparent investigation.

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

“The focus of the bullet has always been out of place and it was an attempt by the Israelis to turn the narrative in their favor,” the Abu Akleh family said in a statement.

The statement said the family expected, and still expects, the FBI or another U.S. authority to consider Abu Akleh’s death as grounds for a “murder investigation.”

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