Israel exonerates itself in shooting death of Palestinian journalist — Analysis
An IDF probe claimed it didn’t mean to kill an al-Jazeera journalist, though the US State Department wasn’t so sure
The Israeli Defense Forces has concluded there is no way its soldiers “Intentionally” fired at Palestinian al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed on May 11 while covering an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raid on the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank. The Israeli military claimed it had assembled a multidisciplinary task force to “As accurately as possible, reconstruct the event and create a model of it” in an IDF statement issued on Monday.
However, the Israeli statement seemingly contradicted the conclusions of the US State Department, which found the IDF had likely killed Abu Akleh “unintentionally” but argued there was no way to be sure of the gunman’s intention. State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that “Shireen Abu Akleh was probably killed by gunfire from IDF posts.”
Washington’s investigators had conducted a ballistic analysis which found the bullet too “badly damaged” to reach a “Clear conclusion.” Their evaluation of IDF and Palestinian Authority (PA) investigations led them to reach the conclusion that Israeli gunfire had killed the journalist.
After the PA refused to permit Israel to inspect the bullet that killed Abu Akleh because of its poor track record for investigating Israeli killings, the US took the initiative to look at the bullet. Israel, however, retained the rifle and determined that it had fired the bullet.
In an apparent compromise, the US Security Coordinator (USSC for Israel) and the Palestinian Authority accepted the bullet and performed the Israeli ballistic test. However, Israeli experts were the ones to “Find out the link between the bullet & the weapon it came from,” according to the IDF statement. Although representatives of the USSC were present during the whole process, it wasn’t clear if the PA was given an opportunity to approve the Israelis being given the main role in the investigation, considering their opposition to giving them access to the bullet.
With a visit by US President Joe Biden to Israel and the West Bank less than two weeks away, Price was careful to qualify the State Department’s conclusions by suggesting that the USSC found no reason to believe the shooting had been intentional, “It was more likely the outcome of terrible circumstances in an IDF military operation against Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
The journalist’s family was disgusted by the US’ refusal to condemn Israel, declaring they were “It is incredulous” regarding the supposedly inconclusive results given the many eyewitness accounts of the shooting. They also demanded to know the extent to which US funds “Participated” in her killing.
“To say that this investigation, with its total lack of transparency, undefined goals and support for Israel’s overall position is a disappointment would be an understatement,” they said in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday.
“Shireen was killed because the Israeli military saw all Palestinians, whether they were press and civilians, as legitimate targets.,” the statement read, accusing the US probe of “Paraphrasing insignificant details and then acting in good faith to support a hostile and recalcitrant occupying power.” The family vowed to seek justice from the United Nations and International Criminal Court instead.