Israeli investigation finds Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional IDF fire

The final conclusion of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) investigation into the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh is that the American-Palestinian journalist was most likely killed by an ‘unintentional fire’ from an Israeli soldier who did not surrender. realizes she was a journalist, a senior IDF officer briefed reporters on Monday.

Why is this important: The findings are a shift from the IDF’s original position that it was not possible to know who shot Abu Akleh, and align with the findings of a US investigation.

  • The IDF identified the soldier who “probably fired the shot,” the IDF officer said, adding, “It was a mistake and he’s sorry about that.
  • The soldier in question, who has not been named, “was in a closed military vehicle under heavy fire. From inside the vehicle he could only see a small area and he did not know he was shooting on a journalist. radio during the incident clearly indicates a mistake in identification,” the IDF officer said.
  • After reviewing the findings and receiving several clarifications, the Army’s Chief General Counsel concluded there was no suspicion of a criminal offense and elected not to open a criminal investigation into the incident. , said the officer.

Rollback: Abu Akleh was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. The 51-year-old Al Jazeera correspondent wore a bulletproof vest marked “press”. His family demanded accountability for his death.

  • The Biden administration said in early July that Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional Israeli fire, but a ballistics test of the bullet fragment removed from her body was “inconclusive”.
  • Citing witnesses, as well as visual and audio evidence, independent investigations by several news agencies, including the Washington Post, AP and New York Times, found it was likely an Israeli soldier fired the fatal blow.
  • An investigation by the UN human rights body came to a similar conclusion.

The last: Abu Akleh’s family rejected the Israeli findings, claimed Israel had “murdered” her and called on the Biden administration to follow through on its stated commitment to accountability. “Accountability requires action,” the statement said.

  • The family said the Israeli investigation “attempted to obscure the truth and avoid accountability.”
  • The family added: “Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency also dismissed the findings of the Israeli investigation and called it “another Israeli attempt to escape responsibility for the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh”.

  • He added that the Palestinian Authority will follow up the matter with the International Criminal Court.

In the wings: In recent weeks, the Biden administration has pressed Israel to release the final findings of the IDF investigation as soon as possible.

  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken has asked Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to conduct a review of the IDF’s rules of engagement in the West Bank, saying it would be a step towards accountability in the Abu Akleh case.
  • Blinken told Gantz he believed the rules of engagement were breached or needed to be reviewed if an Israeli soldier shot Abu Akleh while she was wearing a body armor clearly marked “press,” the statement said. three American and Israeli sources at Axios.

But the senior IDF officer said on Monday that the investigation found there were no violations of the rules of engagement and no problems with the briefing soldiers received before the Jenin raid.

  • “There was no situation in which an IDF soldier intentionally aimed and fired at a person who was not involved in the fighting or at a journalist,” the IDF officer said.

What they say : “Our conclusion is that it is not possible to determine unequivocally from which fire Shireen Abu Akleh was killed, but it is more likely that she was shot by the unintentional fire of an Israeli soldier who did not did not identify as a journalist,” the IDF said. stressed officer.

  • The officer claimed that there were both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants in the area from which the shots were fired.
  • Israel notified the Biden administration of the findings in advance, senior Israeli officials told Axios. On Sunday, Israeli Ambassador to Washington Mike Herzog briefed State Department officials, while Israel’s Defense Ministry briefed US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.

Details: The senior IDF officer told reporters on Monday that two separate IDF investigations had been conducted around the May 11 incident.

  • He added that IDF Chief of Staff General Aviv Kohavi called for further investigation when the results were first presented to him.
  • The senior IDF officer said a team of experts conducted sound and imagery tests and studied press reports of the incident to determine from which direction the shots were fired.
  • “We know the exact locations from which each soldier fired and we have information about the locations from which the Palestinian militants fired,” the IDF officer said.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with statements from the Abu Akleh family and the Palestinian presidency.

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