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Shireen Abu Akleh: Israeli army admits 'highly probable' it killed journalist

Army investigation said despite the findings it would not open an investigation into any soldiers involved in the killing
Several international news agencies that have looked into the shooting have concluded that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was fired from Israeli forces (Al Jazeera)

An Israeli army investigation into the killing of the veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh concluded that she was likely to have been unintentionally shot by an Israeli soldier but was not deliberately targeted, the military said on Monday.

Abu Akleh, a US-Palestinian citizen, was shot dead by Israeli forces on 11 May while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Her colleague Ali al-Samoudi was also shot and injured. 

'Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it's obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes'

- Statement by the family of Abu Akleh

A statement on the investigation published on Monday said "there is a high possibility that M. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF (Israeli army) gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen".

The Israeli Military Advocate General's Office said it would not open an investigation into any soldiers involved in the incident as "there is no suspicion that a criminal offence was committed".

The army investigation also said it was possible that she was hit by Palestinian gunmen.

In a statement in response to the army's findings, the Abu Akleh family said: "Today, the Israeli government and military released a statement that tried to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility for killing Shireen Abu Akleh, our aunt, sister, best friend, journalist, and a Palestinian American.

"We've known for over four 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. 

"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."

The Israeli army investigation found that Abu Akleh was likely mistakenly shot by an Israeli soldier while under fire who was using a telescopic scope and misidentified her as an armed Palestinian gunman.

Middle East Eye contributor Shatha Hanaysha was with Abu Akleh when they came under fire.

"What happened was a deliberate attempt to kill us. Whoever shot at us aimed to kill," she told MEE at the time.

According to Hanaysha, there were no Palestinian fighters nearby and the location where Abu Akleh was killed was in a relatively open area.

UN inquiry

In June, the UN concluded that Israeli forces had fired the fatal bullet that killed Abu Akleh.

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva that the organisation found that the shots that killed Abu Akleh came from Israeli forces.

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“It is deeply disturbing that the Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation," she said.

"We at the UN Human Rights Office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident.

"All information we have gathered - including official information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney-general - is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities."

Several international news agencies that have looked into the shooting have also concluded that the fatal bullet was fired from Israeli forces.

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