Israel admits there is a “high possibility” that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was “accidentally hit” by Israeli army fire but will not be launching a criminal investigation.
Israeli authorities released on Monday 5 the results of their investigation into the killing and said its soldiers had come under fire from Palestinian fighters at the scene, a claim that has not been corroborated by footage of the incident.
“It is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh,” the report said, adding that it remains a “possibility” that she “was hit by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen”.
The report also added that “after a comprehensive examination of the incident, and based on all the findings, the Military Advocate General found that under the circumstances of the case, there is no suspicion of a criminal offense that justifies the opening of a Military Police investigation.”
Instead, army officials said that they were “proud of the conduct of our soldiers” and that the soldiers “were briefed and acted according to procedure”.
Israel initially said that Abu Akleh might have been killed by militant fire, and later that it was impossible to determine who had fired the deadly shot.
Weeks before this report, multiple witnesses, Al Jazeera, and investigations by the United Nations, human rights groups, the Palestinian Authority, and media organizations, including CNN and AP, already had found that an Israeli soldier shot Abu Akleh. Some sources like the journalists who were standing next to her and witnessed the killing have added that there were no Palestinian fighters at the scene when she was killed.
Abu Akleh was a 51-year-old Palestinian American who was shot dead by Israeli forces on May 11, while covering an army raid on Jenin, in the northern occupied West Bank. She was a veteran correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic TV, a household name in the Arab world, and had worked with the network for more than 25 years covering Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Her killing caused global outrage and mass calls for an independent investigation, which Israel has refused, choosing instead to conduct its own. The outrage grew bigger because she was shot in the head while clearly wearing a bulletproof vest marked “Press” and a helmet. Her colleague Ali Samoudi was also wounded and later recovered.
Tensions heightened further when video footage of Israeli security forces attacking the pallbearers carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin at her funeral went viral days after her death, DW adds.
Abu Akleh is one of at least 46 Palestinian journalists that have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since 2000, according to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.
Al Jazeera and Abu Akleh’s family have referred her killing to the International Criminal Court (ICC). As a contributor to Core Middle East, Mohammad Yousef has analyzed the soldier who shot Shireen and the military commander who gave these orders (according to Clause B of Paragraph 3 of Article 25 of the Rome Statute) and should be held accountable for committing a crime.
According to Article 5 of the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court deals with four main crimes: (a) The crime of genocide;(b) Crimes against humanity;(c) War crimes; (d) The crime of aggression. Yousef further adds that the assassination of journalist Sherine Abu Akleh is considered a crime against humanity and falls under paragraph A of Article 7, which is the crime of murder.