Categories: World

Israel admits ‘high possibility’ of killing journalist Abu Akleh

Israel admits ‘high possibility’ of killing journalist Abu Akleh

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has admitted for the first time that there is a “high possibility” that Al Jazeera Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed by Israeli fire while covering a Israeli military operation in Jenin in May, as the IDF denounced on Monday (5).

“[Parece] that it is not possible to unambiguously determine the source of the shooting that hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh. However, there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF rounds fired at suspects identified as Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire,” the IDF said in a statement.

But the Israeli military does not intend to bring criminal charges or prosecutions against any of the soldiers involved, the IDF Military Attorney General said on Monday in a separate statement.

“After a comprehensive examination of the incident, and based on all conclusions presented, the military attorney general determined that under the circumstances of the incident, despite the dire outcome – the death of Abu Akleh and the wounding of Samudi – there was no suspicion of a crime that warrants the opening of an investigation by the Military Attorney General’s Office,” the statement said. Abu Akleh producer Ali al-Samoudi was injured in the incident.

“The decision was based on the findings of the review, which determined that IDF soldiers only fired on those who were identified as armed terrorists during the incident. In essence, there was no suspicion that a bullet was deliberately fired at any person identified as a civilian and, in particular, against any person identified as a journalist,” the statement said.

An IDF official who briefed journalists on the military investigation’s findings before they were released said IDF troops were unaware they were shooting in the press and said Abu Akleh’s back “probably” facing the soldiers was a factor. taxpayer. In footage from the shooting scene, Abu Akleh is wearing a protective vest with the word “PRESS” on the front and back.

“When they were shooting in that direction, the soldiers didn’t know they were shooting at journalists. They thought they were shooting at militants by shooting at them,” the IDF official said.

An investigation of CNN in May it unearthed evidence – including two videos of the shooting scene – that there was no active fighting, and no Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to his death. Images obtained by CNN corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons expert, suggested that Israeli forces intentionally targeted Abu Akleh.

Al Jazeera, Abu Akleh’s employer, has consistently claimed that the Israeli military is responsible for his death. The broadcaster condemned the IDF investigation, saying the delay of more than 100 days since the shooting “is intended to evade the criminal responsibility it bears for the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh”.

“Al Jazeera denounces the Israeli occupation army’s lack of frank recognition of its crime. The broadcaster calls for an independent international body to investigate the crime of Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder in order to bring justice to Shireen, her family and fellow journalists around the world,” the network said in a statement.

When asked about investigations, including the CNN , who found no militants near Abu Akleh when she was shot, the IDF official said: “It is our estimate that there were militants in the vicinity of Abu Abkleh. Maybe not a meter next to it, but they were in that area,” but the official did not provide evidence to support that claim.

“When the soldier made that decision, it was in the blink of an eye,” the officer said. “The soldier did not intend to harm a journalist from Al Jazeera or any other broadcaster.”

“The soldier is sorry, and I am sorry. This should not happen. He didn’t do it on purpose,” the official said. He did not name the soldier.

At Monday’s briefing with reporters, the IDF official said the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was too damaged to be able to identify which weapon fired, the same conclusion a US-led forensic investigation reached.

However, the IDF concluded that the soldier who likely fired the fatal shot was south of Abu Akleh in an armored military vehicle with limited vision range, did not identify Abu Akleh as a journalist and thought he was shooting at militants.

The official said soldiers in the area were under fire “for an hour and fifteen minutes” before Abu Akleh was killed.

Asked why the shooting seemed to continue even after Abu Akleh’s fall, the official said he counted no more than seven bullets fired after she was shot.

There were Israeli drones filming during the operation, he said, but not at a high enough resolution to be able to see the fatal shot.

In the early aftermath of Abu Akleh’s death, Israeli officials first posited that it was likely indiscriminate shooting by Palestinian militants that killed her, before acknowledging that it was possible that Israeli gunfire was responsible for her death.

In its report on Monday, the IDF left open the possibility that Abu Akleh “was hit by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen in the direction of the area where she was present.

According to the Palestinian autopsy, Abu Akleh was killed by a single bullet to the back of the head.

Shireen Abu Akleh’s family criticized the IDF investigation, saying Israel “refused to take responsibility for Shireen’s murder” and called for an independent US investigation.

The report “attempted to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, our aunt, sister, best friend, journalist and Palestinian American,” the family said in a statement sent to CNN .

“We have known for over 4 months that an Israeli soldier shot and killed Shireen as numerous investigations conducted by the CNN Associated Press, New York Times, Al Jazeera, Al-Haq, B’tselem, the United Nations and others have already concluded,” the statement said.

“And yet, as expected, Israel refused to take responsibility for Shireen’s murder. Our family is not surprised by this result, as it is 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 family has called for a full, independent and credible US investigation that leads to accountability, which is the least the US government should do for one of its own citizens. We will continue to demand that the US government live up to its stated accountability commitments. Accountability requires action.”

In a statement on Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price welcomed the IDF’s review and emphasized “the importance of accountability in this case, as well as policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

“Our thoughts remain with the Abu Akleh family as they suffer this tremendous loss – and with many others around the world who have brought Shireen and her reporting into their homes for more than two decades,” Price said. “Shireen was not just an American citizen, she was a fearless reporter whose journalism and pursuit of the truth earned her the respect of audiences around the world.”

In July, the United States found that the Israeli military’s gunfire was “probably responsible” for the murder of Abu Akleh, although a U.S.-supervised examination of the bullet “could not come to a definitive conclusion” about its origin due to the bullet’s condition. .

The US Security Coordinator – who leads an interagency team that coordinates with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority – “found no reason to believe 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,” according to a statement at the time from the State Department.

The IDF has carried out regular attacks in the West Bank, especially in the Jenin area, targeting what it says are militants and weapons caches. The attack in Jenin, when Abu Akleh was killed, followed a months-long wave of Palestinian attacks that left 19 Israelis and foreigners dead. Some of the alleged attackers of these attacks were from Jenin, according to the Israeli military.

Source: CNN Brasil