The Israel Protection Forces have admitted for the primary time that there’s a “high possibility” Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed by Israeli fireplace whereas protecting an Israeli navy operation in Jenin in Could, the IDF introduced Monday.
“[I]t appears that it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh. However, there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire,” the IDF mentioned in an announcement.
However the Israeli navy doesn’t intend to pursue felony expenses or prosecutions of any of the troopers concerned, IDF’s Navy Advocate Basic’s Workplace mentioned Monday in a separate assertion.
“After a comprehensive examination of the incident, and based on all the findings presented, the Military Advocate General determined that under the circumstances of the incident, despite the dire result – the death of Ms. Abu Akleh and Mr. Samudi’s injury – there was no suspicion of a criminal offense that warrants the opening of an MPCID investigation,” the assertion mentioned.
“The decision was based on the findings of the review, which determined that IDF soldiers only aimed fire at those who were identified as armed terrorists during the incident. As such, there was no suspicion that a bullet was fired deliberately at anyone identified as a civilian and in particular at anyone identified as a journalist,” the assertion mentioned.
A senior IDF official who briefed journalists on the findings of the navy’s investigation earlier than they had been launched mentioned the IDF troops didn’t know they had been taking pictures on the press, and mentioned that Abu Akleh’s again “probably” being turned to the troopers was a contributing issue. In photos from the scene of the taking pictures, Abu Akleh is sporting a protecting vest that’s labeled “PRESS” on each the back and front.
“When they were firing in that direction, the soldiers were not aware they were firing at journalists. They thought they were firing at militants firing at them,” the IDF official mentioned.
A CNN investigation in Could unearthed proof – together with two movies of the scene of the taking pictures – that there was no lively fight, nor any Palestinian militants, close to Abu Akleh within the moments main as much as her loss of life. Footage obtained by CNN, corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons skilled, recommended that Israeli forces deliberately took goal at Abu Akleh.
Al Jazeera, Abu Akleh’s employer, has persistently asserted that the Israeli navy is accountable for her loss of life.
When requested about investigations, together with CNN’s, that discovered no militants close to Abu Akleh when she was killed, the official mentioned: “It is our estimate that there were militants in the vicinity of Ms. Abu Abkleh. Maybe not one meter beside her but they were in that area,” however the official didn’t present proof to assist that declare.
“When the soldier made that decision, it was a blink of a decision,” the official mentioned. “The soldier did not intend to injure an Al Jazeera journalist or [journalist] from any other network.”
“The soldier is sorry, and I am sorry. This was not supposed to happen and it should not happen. He did not do this on purpose,” the official mentioned. He didn’t identify the soldier.
When she was killed, Abu Akleh was accompanied by a bunch of different journalists, together with her producer Ali al-Samoudi, who was wounded within the incident.
In Monday’s briefing with reporters, the senior IDF official mentioned the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was too badly broken to have the ability to establish which gun fired it, the identical conclusion a US-led forensic investigation got here to.
Nevertheless, the IDF has concluded that the soldier who doubtless fired the deadly shot was to the south of Abu Akleh in an armored navy automobile with restricted vary of sight, didn’t establish Abu Akleh as a journalist and thought he was taking pictures at militants.
The official mentioned troopers within the space had been underneath fireplace “for an hour and fifteen minutes” earlier than Abu Akleh was killed.
Requested why the gunfire appeared to proceed even after Abu Akleh fell, the official mentioned they counted not more than seven bullets fired after she was shot. There have been Israeli drones filming in the course of the operation, the official mentioned, however not in a excessive sufficient decision to have the ability to see the deadly shot.
Within the preliminary aftermath of Abu Akleh’s loss of life, Israeli officers first posited that it was doubtless indiscriminate Palestinian militant gunfire that killed her, earlier than acknowledging it was doable Israeli gunfire was accountable for her loss of life.
Of their report on Monday, the IDF left open the likelihood that Abu Akleh “was hit by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen toward the direction of the area in which she was present.”
In keeping with the Palestinian post-mortem, Abu Akleh was killed by a single bullet to the again of the top.
Shireen Abu Akleh’s household slammed the IDF investigation, saying Israel had “refused to take responsibility for murdering Shireen,” and known as for an unbiased US investigation.
The report “tried to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility for killing Shireen Abu Akleh, our aunt, sister, best friend, journalist, and a Palestinian American,” the household mentioned in an announcement despatched to CNN.
“We’ve known for over 4 months now that an Israeli soldier shot and killed Shireen as countless investigations conducted by CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Al-Haq, B’tselem, the United Nations, and others have all concluded,” the assertion mentioned.
“And yet, as expected, Israel has refused to take responsibility for murdering Shireen. Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it’s obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated, and disappointed.”
“Since Shireen was killed our household has known as for an intensive, unbiased, and credible US investigation that results in accountability, which is the naked minimal the US authorities ought to do for one among their very own residents. We are going to proceed to demand that the US authorities observe via with its said commitments to accountability. Accountability requires motion.
In July america discovered that gunfire from the Israeli navy was “likely responsible” for the killing of Abu Akleh, though an examination overseen by the US of the bullet “could not reach a definitive conclusion” on its origin as a result of situation of the bullet.
The US Safety Coordinator – who leads an inter-agency crew that coordinates with the Israeli authorities and the PA – “found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel,” based on an announcement on the time from the State Division.
The IDF has been finishing up common raids within the West Financial institution, particularly within the Jenin space, concentrating on what it says are militants and weapons caches. The raid in Jenin when Abu Akleh was killed got here shortly after a months-long wave of assaults by Palestinians that left 19 Israelis and foreigners lifeless. A number of the suspected assailants of these assaults had been from Jenin, based on the Israeli navy.