US says Israeli military shooting ‘probably responsible’ for Shirin Abu Akle’s death, but examination of bullet yields no results

The U.S. security coordinator, according to the statement, “concluded that Shirin Abu Akle’s death was likely caused by shooting from IDF (Israel Defense Forces) positions.” The conclusion was “summarizing” investigations being conducted by the IDF and the Palestinian Authority (PA) — investigations to which the US security coordinator has been given “full access” over the past few weeks, Price said.

U.S. Security Coordinator an interministerial group that coordinates with the Israeli government and the PA — “I found no reason to believe that this was intentional, but rather the result of tragic circumstances during the IDF-led military operation against Palestinian Islamic Jihad groups on May 11, 2022 in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel.”, – said Price.

“We once again express our deepest condolences to the Abu Akla family,” he said.

The family said in a statement on Monday that they “do not believe” the findings, and “the notion that U.S. investigators, whose identity is not disclosed in the statement, believe that the bullet was ‘probably fired from Israeli positions’ is little consolation.”

Ali al-Samoudi, the Al Jazeera journalist who was shot dead along with Abu Akle, said he “expected” inconclusive results and called the US the real “enemy of democracy and human rights.”

Price said the US will “continue to engage” with Israel and the PA and “hold them accountable.”

He noted that the examination of the bullet that killed Abu Akle was “extremely detailed” and that “independent outside experts through a process overseen by the US security coordinator” were unable to definitively establish its origin.

“Ballistics experts determined that the bullet was severely damaged, which did not allow for a definite conclusion,” Price said.

Following the US findings, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stated that “an IDF investigation failed to determine who was responsible for the tragic death of journalist Shirin Abu Akle, but it was able to conclusively establish that there was no intention to harm her.” Israel, Lapid said, “deplores her death” and has “fully and unreservedly supported” the IDF soldiers.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a separate statement that “it is not possible to determine the source of the shooting, so the investigation will continue.”

The IDF said a forensic examination was carried out at a forensic laboratory in Israel by Israeli experts in the presence of representatives of the US security coordinator.

“Despite these efforts, the physical condition of the bullet and the quality of its characteristics do not allow ballistics examination to definitively determine whether the bullet was fired from an inspected weapon,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. .

The Palestinian State Attorney said on Monday it was “not true” that the bullet was badly damaged.

Palestinian Authority Attorney General Akram Al-Khatib said on Saturday that the PA had received “guarantees” from the US that the bullet would not be handed over to the Israelis and did not answer further questions after the IDF said they were involved. Earlier Monday, the US embassy in Jerusalem told CNN it had no further comment on who exactly examined the bullet.

Abu Akle’s family criticized the focus on the bullet that killed her in a statement, calling the focus “inappropriate” and “an attempt by the Israeli side to turn the narrative in their favor.”

They also noted that “there were numerous witnesses to the assassination and we now have reports from numerous local and international media outlets, human rights organizations and the United Nations that an Israeli soldier fired the fatal shot as there were no other armed elements in the area.” Jenin, where Shirin was killed.”

A CNN investigation in May found evidence, including two videos from the scene of the shooting, that there was no active fighting or any Palestinian militants near Abu Akle in the moments leading up to her death. Footage obtained by CNN, corroborated by the testimony of eight witnesses, a medical examiner and an explosives expert, suggests that Abu Akle, who was wearing a helmet and a blue safety vest marked “Press” at the time of the murder, was shot to death. during a targeted attack by Israeli forces.

CNN is among at least five investigative media outlets that suggest the shot was fired from a position where Israeli troops were stationed. None of the investigations found any evidence of the presence of Palestinian militants near Abu Akle when she was shot dead, or militants who fired directly in her direction. The investigation by the UN Human Rights Office came to the same conclusions as investigative journalism.

On Monday, Abu Akle’s family vowed to continue to defend her, writing in a statement that to say that the US investigation “with its total lack of transparency, vague goals and support for Israel’s overall position is a disappointment would be an understatement.”

“We continue to urge the US government to conduct an open, transparent and thorough investigation of all facts by independent agencies, free from any political considerations or influence,” the family said.

Last month, two dozen US senators called for direct US involvement in the Abu Akle investigation. US President Joe Biden plans to visit Israel and the West Bank later this month.

The family had previously said they were not told the bullet had been handed over to US officials.

A US official told CNN before the results were released that Washington had been pushing the Palestinians for weeks to give them access to the bullet that killed Abu Akla. for the involvement of the US government in securing accountability for the killing of Abu Akle.

Palestinian officials provided the bullet to US authorities on Saturday. PA Justice Minister Mohammad al-Shaalalde told Al Jazeera Sunday night that US officials had returned the bullet.

This story was updated with additional details on Monday.

Kylie Atwood of CNN and Tamara Kiblawi contributed to this report.

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