US urges probe into Israeli forces' killing of Palestinian journalist, says 'cannot judge'
US officials' statements fell short of directly blaming Israeli forces for the deadly shooting, despite eyewitnesses saying that the reporter was shot at by Israeli troops.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was "absolutely heartbroken" to learn of her death and the injuries to her producer in the occupied West Bank.
"We send our deepest condolences to Shireen's family, friends and loved ones and strongly condemn her killing, as we do the killing of journalists around the world," he said.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also called for the killing to be "investigated transparently."
"We're encouraging both sides to participate in that investigation so that we can get down to why this happened," US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
Washington's "highest priority is protection of American citizens and the protection of journalists," she added.
Thomas-Greenfield said she had been interviewed by Abu Akleh during a visit to the region last year and had "extraordinary respect for her."
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera television channel charged that Israeli forces deliberately and "in cold blood" shot veteran reporter Abu Akleh, 51, in the head during the unrest in the Jenin refugee camp.
Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested "armed Palestinians" were "likely" responsible, however a video by Israeli rights group B'Tselem debunked Bennet's claim, showing that Palestinian gunfire occurred at a separate location in Jenin from where Abu Akleh was killed.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz appeared to distance himself from the prime minister's remarks and said he "cannot exclude any option."
The European Union called for an "independent" investigation.
Price said the United States could not judge who killed her but welcomed an investigation led by Israel.
"The Israelis have the wherewithal and the capabilities to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation," he told reporters.
The investigation must end with "those responsible for her death being held responsible for their actions."
Rights groups and activists have expressed strong doubt over Israel's ability to conduct a probe into the killing. Tel Aviv has rarely prosecuted Israeli police and soldiers over abuses against Palestinians.