CNN Report Suggests Al Jazeera Journalist Killed by Deliberate Israeli Gunfire

The U.S. network's investigation, which suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was intentionally killed, is based on video footage, forensic findings, audio analysis of the gunshots and eyewitness accounts

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A memorial to Shireen Abu Akleh, in Bethlehem, the West Bank, last week.
A memorial to Shireen Abu Akleh, in Bethlehem, the West Bank, last week.Credit: MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ Reuters

A CNN investigation published Tuesday suggested that Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by targeted Israeli fire.

The network's investigation was based on eleven videos of the incident at the Jenin refugee camp earlier this month, at least one of which had been previously published, and the testimonies of eight eyewitnesses.

The Israeli army has not ruled out the possibility that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire, and the investigation does not directly contradict the army's findings. However, CNN's report suggests that the shooting was intentional, and that Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted journalists, which Israel disputes. CNN based their claim on footage, forensic findings, sound analysis of the gunshots and the eight eyewitness accounts.

Abu Akleh was killed earlier this month during a raid by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin. The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of killing Abu Akleh, while the Israel Defense Forces said its interim investigation could not determine whether she was killed by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire before it ultimately announced it will not investigate the shooting further.

    CNN turned to an explosive weapons expert, Chris Cobb-Smith, who assessed the markings left on the tree behind Abu Akleh and determined that she was killed by discrete shots – not a burst of automatic gunfire.

    Cobb-Smith, a security consultant and British army veteran, told CNN, "From the strike marks on the tree, it appears that the shots, one of which hit Shireen, came from down the street from the direction of the IDF troops. The relatively tight grouping of the rounds indicate Shireen was intentionally targeted with aimed shots and not the victim of random or stray fire."

    CNN's investigation also determined that there was no shootout preceding the specific shooting incident. The investigation determines that the fire came from a group of armored Israeli vehicles, which were stationed several hundred meters from where Abu Akleh was shot. The vehicles also appear in the IDF investigation into the shooting, as well as in videos of the incident circulated by the army.

    It is still unclear whether the CNN investigation presents enough evidence to prove that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire. However, given the attention it has received on social media, it is likely to deepen the tensions between Israel and the United States, particularly after Israel's decision not to open a Military Police investigation.

    The CNN report also includes a response from the Israeli army, which said that Israel is investigating the incident and called for Palestinian and American cooperation. The army added, "assertions regarding the source of the fire that killed Ms. Abu Akleh must be carefully made and backed by hard evidence. This is what the IDF is striving to achieve."

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