Palestinians: Al Jazeera Reporter 'Deliberately' Targeted, Bullet Won't Be Handed Over to Israel

The Palestinian attorney general claims that Palestinian gunmen were not present at the scene of the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, and that they will take their findings to the ICC

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian Attorney General Akram Al-Khatib hands over the results of the autopsy of Shireen Abu Akleh to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Thursday.
Palestinian Attorney General Akram Al-Khatib hands over the results of the autopsy of Shireen Abu Akleh to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Thursday.Credit: PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT OFFICE/ REUTERS
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that Israeli forces deliberately killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin earlier this month.

Attorney General Akram al-Khatib announced the results of the Palestinian investigation into Abu Akleh's death at a press conference in Ramallah, saying that it "proves that at the scene of the incident, armed Palestinians were not present, and that Israeli forces were the only ones present."

The bullet that killed Abu Akleh is a 5.56 mm round with a steel component used by NATO forces, he said. Al-Khatib added that the shot was fired by a soldier who stood about 170 meters (186 yards) away. He also said that the Palestinian Authority will not hand the bullet over to Israel for examination.

He said they decided to not even show images of the bullet as “to deprive [the Israelis] of a new lie.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz responded to the Palestinians' report, saying that "Israel finds the death of Shireen Abu Akleh regrettable, and the IDF is carrying out an examination in order to arrive at a truthful examination. Any claim that the IDF intentionally harmed journalists or noncombatants is a blatant lie."

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi will give an address at a military ceremony later on Thursday, during which he is expected to mention the Palestinian investigation.

Israel says Abu Akleh was shot during a battle between its soldiers and Palestinian militants. It says that only a ballistic analysis of the bullet and the soldiers’ guns can determine who fired the fatal shot.

"The fire was aimed at the journalists, which represents a war crime," al-Khatib said. He added that the detailed report would be presented to the international community, as well as to the International Criminal Court.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian civil affairs minister who is also responsible for coordination with Israel, announced that the autopsy report will also be handed over to the U.S. government, and that two copies will be given to Abu Akleh's family and to Al Jazeera.

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.

On Wednesday, Israel's President Isaac Herzog called the death of Abu Akleh "a very sad event," but said that a CNN report suggesting she was killed by deliberate Israeli fire "fake facts."

The investigation published on Tuesday suggested that the Palestinian-American journalist 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.

According to the U.S. State Department neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority has formally requested U.S. assistance in the investigation into Abu Akleh's killing.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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