Israeli army admits ‘high possibility’ of killing journalist

The Israeli army admitted for the first time on Monday (5) a “high possibility” that one of its soldiers in May killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, from the TV channel Al-Jazeera.

The reporter was shot dead on May 11, while covering an Israeli military operation in the Palestinian camp in Jenin, a stronghold of Palestinian armed forces in the occupied North West Bank, where a special Israeli army unit was trying to capture “suspects”. The intervention led to armed clashes.

After the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, who was wearing a bulletproof vest with the word “press” on it and a helmet, the Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera immediately accused Israeli forces of killing her.

Israel has denied the accusation several times, although journalistic investigations and a UN report concluded that the shot that hit the reporter was the work of the Israelis, even if unintentionally.

However, in its “final conclusions”, the Israeli army admitted on Monday that one of its soldiers fired at the journalist.

“There is a strong possibility that Ms Abu Akleh was accidentally shot by the Israeli army, which was aimed at suspects identified as Palestinian gunmen,” said the Israeli army in the conclusions of its investigation into the death of the Palestinian and American journalist. .

The Armed Forces indicated that they “chronologically” studied the sequence of events, analyzed the places, videos and recorded sounds, and performed a “scene simulation”.

The United States thanked Israel for reviewing the incident, but stressed “the importance of being accountable in this case, as well as establishing policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. .

– Target error? –

According to the Army, “Israeli experts” conducted a ballistics analysis on July 2, in the presence of representatives of the US Security Coordinating Committee for Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Due to the “poor state of the bullet”, identifying its origin was “difficult”, highlighted the army in its report, stating that it is not “absolute” sure about the shot that ended the journalist’s life.

The United States also concluded that a shot from an Israeli position “probably” killed Shireen Abu Akleh, but found no reason to believe it was intentional.

“The soldier was not trying to shoot an Al Jazeera journalist or any journalist. (…) The soldier misidentified his target and regrets that,” a senior Israeli military official said at a press conference on Monday. “This shouldn’t have happened, it wasn’t intentional,” he added.

According to this source, the soldier, located about 200 meters from the journalist, did not see the “press” identification on his bulletproof vest. It also indicated that the reporter was hit by a bullet in the back of the head.

The Israeli Military Prosecutor’s Office announced on Monday that “there were no suspicions of a criminal act justifying a criminal investigation by the military police”, even though there is a “high probability” that Israeli soldiers killed Shireen Abu Akleh.

The journalist’s family on Monday accused Israeli authorities of “avoiding responsibility” for her death. “We remain deeply wounded, frustrated and disappointed,” the family said in a statement, calling for a credible US investigation.

“The facts and investigations show that Israel is to blame, that Israel killed Shireen and that Israel must take responsibility for her crime,” reacted Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Al Jazeera denounced the investigation’s findings, considering that “this confession, the small mouth, is nothing more than an attempt by the Israeli occupation forces to evade their criminal responsibility”.

“Al Jazeera condemns the reluctance of the Israeli occupation forces to explicitly admit their crime and their attempts to evade legal action against the perpetrators,” the channel added in a statement.

For the head of the Middle East region of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Sherif Mansur, the acknowledgment “of the guilt of the Israeli Armed Forces comes too late and incomplete”. The organization regrets, among other things, that no information on the identity of the killer is provided.

The Israeli anti-colonization NGO B’Tselem called the Israeli army’s findings a “false confession” and not “an investigation”. “It’s not a mistake, it’s a policy,” she lamented.

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