IDF: Investigation into bullet that killed Palestinian journalist inconclusive
The IDF has released the preliminary investigation into the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, saying that it is still impossible to determine who shot her.
IDF troops entered Jenin on Friday and were seen at the location where Akleh was killed. As part of the investigation into her death, the Israeli military is attempting to reconstruct the incident in order to understand from where the bullet was fired.
Though there were several clashes, the army is investigating the specific firefight in which Abu Akleh was shot and has asked all troops involved in that clash to hand over their weapons so that the military can perform ballistic investigations on them.
The military said that they entered Jenin in order to carry out arrests and were met by “widespread and uncontrolled gunfire” as well as accurate shots and improvised explosive devices hurled towards troops.
“During the end of the operation, in broad daylight and when forces had left the camp, a journalist who was in the area of the fighting was injured during an exchange of fire.”
According to the preliminary investigation, while it remains impossible to determine the source of the bullet, there were several possibilities that could have led to her death.
One possibility was that as part of the attempt to hit troops, Palestinian gunmen fired hundreds of bullets from several points.
“As part of their attempts to hit IDF vehicles, dozens of bullets were fired uncontrollably, including in the direction of where the reporter was heading,” the military said.
The other possibility they said was that an IDF Force fired several bullets from a special slit in their jeep through a telescopic sight towards the gunmen.
“There remains the possibility” that the reporter who was standing near the gunmen “was hit by the force’s shots against the terrorists,” the army said, adding that she had been some 200 m. from the troops.
All Palestinian witnesses, including the other journalists who were with her have denied that there were gunmen in the vicinity and have blamed soldiers for shooting her.
Though the Palestinians have continued to refuse to work with Israel regarding the investigation into her death, “Getting the bullet for a professional ballistic examination may determine between the options,” the army said.
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi instructed the military “to continue to act and investigate the incident, using all the tools at our disposal and with a commitment to transparency and to reveal the truth,” the statement said, adding that it “sees great importance in the freedom of the press and work to preserve it.”
Abu Akleh, from Beit Hanina, was struck by a bullet to the head while covering an IDF raid that saw heavy clashes between forces and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday.
Though it has still not been determined who fired the bullet that hit her, her death sparked international outrage against Israel and IDF forces.