- Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in a “war crime” on May 11 by an Israeli soldier, an official Palestinian investigation concluded on Thursday.
- The report says that Abu Akleh was killed with a 5.56-millimeter armor-piercing round fired from a Ruger Mini-14 rifle.
- Israeli authorities were quick to criticize the Palestinian report’s conclusions, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz saying the Israeli army would never target journalists.
An Al Jazeera journalist shot dead in the occupied West Bank earlier this month was killed in a “war crime” by an Israeli soldier, an official Palestinian investigation concluded on Thursday.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Al Jazeera have accused Israeli forces of killing Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11 while he was covering an Israeli operation in the West Bank city of Jenin. The television network said on Thursday that it would file a case with the International Criminal Court.
Israeli authorities have responded that Abu Akleh could have been killed by stray shots by a Palestinian gunman or by mistake by an Israeli soldier.
All “proven facts constitute the elements of the crime of murder… under domestic law, it is a war crime and a violation of international law,” said Palestinian Authority Attorney General Akram Al-Khateeb, who filed the research findings.
The Palestinian-American journalist, who was wearing a vest with the inscription “Press” and a helmet, was hit by a bullet just below the helmet.
The report says that Abu Akleh was killed with a 5.56-millimeter armor-piercing round fired from a Ruger Mini-14 rifle.
He added that bullet holes in a nearby tree indicated “targeting the upper parts of the body with the aim of killing.”
All these facts: the type of projectile, the weapon, the distance, the fact that there were no obstructions to vision and that he was wearing a press jacket lead us to conclude that Abu Akleh was the target of an assassination.
“The only source of fire was the Israeli occupation forces,” he said.
A senior Palestinian Authority official, Hussein al-Sheikh, said a copy of the report had been sent to US authorities and copies would be provided to Abu Akleh’s family and Al Jazeera.
The Qatar-based network announced shortly after that its legal team and international experts were preparing a case to put the ICC prosecutor in The Hague.
He said the case would also include the destruction of Al Jazeera’s Gaza office in May 2021 in an Israeli raid, as well as other attacks on its journalists in the Palestinian territories.
Article eight of the ICC charter makes it a war crime to attack a journalist in a war zone. Last year, the ICC launched an investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories, but Israel is not a member of the ICC and disputes its jurisdiction.
A CNN report published this week, disputed by Israel, also pointed to a deliberate killing, citing the impacts on the tree.
Israeli authorities were quick to criticize the Palestinian report’s conclusions, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz saying the Israeli army would never target journalists.
“Any claim that the IDF intentionally harms journalists or uninvolved civilians is a blatant lie,” he said in a statement, referring to the Israel Defense Forces.
Despite the Israeli side repeatedly reaching out, the Palestinians refuse to cooperate, raising the question of whether they really want to get to the truth.
The Palestinian authorities refuse to hand over the bullet to the Israeli authorities for investigation, citing a lack of trust.
“Attempts to charge IDF soldiers with war crimes while promoting false assessments like the one published by CNN undermines the ability to achieve peace and stability in the region and ultimately encourages terrorism,” Gantz said. .
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