PA says its probe proves Israel killed Shireen Abu Akleh as US 'shunned' from investigation
The Palestinian Authority released results of its probe into the murder of Palestinian-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, shortly after the US said it was never formally invited to the investigation into her killing.
The Palestinian Authority's attorney general said on Thursday that its investigation shows an Israeli soldier shot the Al Jazeera journalist in a targeted killing in Jenin on 11 May.
The bullet that killed Abu Akleh is a 5.56 mm round with a steel component used by NATO forces, he said. He reiterated that the PA will not hand the bullet over to Israel.
The 51-year-old veteran Al Jazeera reporter was killed by Israeli forces while covering a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
On Wednesday, the US State Department said neither Israel nor the PA has formally requested American assistance in the investigation into her killing,
Both Israel and the PA hinted at US involvement in any investigation into Abu Akleh's killing, but the Palestinians said they would be conducting their own investigation after being highly suspicious about Israel's motives following a series of 'false narratives' about the killing.
The PA said it would share any results of the investigation with the US and Qatar, whereas Israeli officials called for US presence in any investigation it conducts.
Shortly after the killing, Israel had asked for the Palestinian Authority to hand over the bullet removed from Abu Akleh's body to conduct a forensic examination. It offered that Palestinian and US officials could be present during the process.
However, this week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said he was “not aware of any request for assistance” from either side. And when asked during a press briefing Wednesday — two weeks after Abu Akleh’s death — if the US had been asked to participate or act as an observer, he stood by his previous answer.
“We have made clear to both Israeli and Palestinian authorities that we expect the investigations to be transparent and impartial, a full, thorough accounting into the circumstances of the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,” Price said.
The death of Abu Akleh, a much-loved media icon who became a household name during the second Palestinian intifada and helped establish Al Jazeera as a major international network, was received with shock and outrage across the world.
Her killers have still not been brought to justice.
Palestinian officials and witnesses, including journalists who were with her, say she was killed by Israeli army fire. After initially accusing Palestinians of being responsible, the military later backtracked and now say that it is "very likely" that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli gunfire.
The Palestinian Journalists' Union says at least 55 journalists have been killed since the year 2000, when the Second Intifada took place.
In a recent report, press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that Palestinian journalists are "systematically subjected to violence as a result of their coverage of events in the West Bank. Israeli reporters are barred from visiting the Gaza Strip."
Palestinian reporters are regularly subjected to arrest, violence and prosecution, with their equipment often destroyed and their accreditation cards withheld.