The Palestinian Authority has agreed to hand over the bullet that killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May to the United States, Palestinian sources said Saturday, adding that American representatives are expected to arrive in Ramallah to conduct their investigation.
"We will not hand over the bullet to Israel, but we agreed that the Americans will check it," Palestinian Attorney General Akram al-Khateeb told Haaretz. The decision comes little over a week before U.S. President Joe Biden's planned visit to Israel and the West Bank.
Palestinian sources told Haaretz that the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. administration had made the agreement to hand over the bullet to the United States. Israel was not party to the agreement, which was also promised to the Palestinian side.
U.S. officials from members of both houses of Congress had been pressuring the Palestinians to cooperate with the investigation, and were particularly motivated to break the stalemate with evidence-sharing ahead of Biden’s visit.
Abu Akleh, one of Al Jazeera's most well-known journalists in the Arab world and a U.S. citizen, was killed while Israeli soldiers were conducting an operation to arrest wanted men in the Jenin refugee camp. Armed Palestinians responded with massive gunfire at the Israelis. Her death was widely covered in the international media and sparked harsh criticism of the IDF and Israeli policy in the territories.
The Biden administration also criticized Israel and demanded an explanation for the journalist’s death.
While the Israeli military offered to carry out a joint inquriy into Abu Akleh's death, the Palestinian Authority decided to conduct its own investigation immediately following her death, which Attorney General al-Khateeb argued proved "that at the scene of the incident, armed Palestinians were not present, and that Israeli forces were the only ones present."
The IDF reiterated its offer for a joint inquiry in response last month. "Israel and the PA occasionally conduct joint probes and their refusal to do so now is a testament to their concerns," a statement by the army's spokesperson unit said.
The military also emphasized that Abu Akleh was not deliberately shot and that it cannot be determined if she was shot by Palestinian gunmen or Israeli troops.
Last month, Al Jazeera published photos of what it said was the bullet that killed Abu Akleh. The bullet is an armor-piercing type used by the Israel Defense Forces and was shot from an M-4 rifle, the station said. It added that the bullet, whose tip was painted green, distorted when it hit Abu Akleh’s helmet.