Israel has approached the Palestinian Authority asking to obtain the bullet removed from the body of slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot to death on Wednesday morning in an exchange of fire between Israel Defense Forces and armed Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp.
Israel made the request in order to conduct forensic tests on the bullet to determine the source of the weapons fire that killed the journalist. The office of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories offered to have representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the United States present in the course of the examination.
The Biden administration was in touch with Israel and the Palestinian Authority several times Wednesday to verify that the two sides were conducting comprehensive investigations of the circumstances of the incident with the aim of determining who was responsible. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the administration was not taking a position regarding how the case should be investigated. An Israeli official claimed, however, that “the Americans are pushing for a joint investigation.”
According to journalists who were at the Jenin refugee camp Wednesday morning, the weapons fire at the journalist came from the Israeli army. “We had all the necessary equipment with helmets and vests. We were waiting for Shireen and [another journalist] at the scene] Ali Samoudi,” said Mogahed Asadi, a reporter who was present during the weapons fire. After that, “the firing began. I told them that we were being fired upon. I looked around me and I saw Shireen lying on the ground,” Asadi said.
The IDF rebutted the criticism and claimed that it was not yet possible to determine what hit Abu Akleh. The commander of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, expressed sorrow over the reporter’s death in an interview with Channel 13. “At this stage,” he added, “I don’t have sufficient information to know what she was hit by.”
“There was a large number of exchanges of fire. We encountered wild unorganized firing from all directions,” Fuchs said. He claimed that in "99 percent of cases," the IDF manages to avoid harming innocent bystanders, but “we are not always successful, particularly in places like this, which are areas of urban combat.”
Abu Akleh was shot to death in the course of IDF operations at the Jenin camp. Another reporter sustained moderate wounds from weapons fire.
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Following the incident, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said that the Israeli army force responded after coming under massive weapons fire and that according to preliminary assessments, Abu Akleh was hit by fire from armed Palestinians.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett later said that Israel had offered to conduct a joint investigation with the Palestinians but was turned down. Later IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi expressed sorrow over the Al Jazeera reporter’s death, adding that “at this stage, it is not possible to determine which weapons fire hit her.”
Kochavi appointed an IDF investigation team headed by commando brigade commander Col. Meni Liberti.