Global calls to hold Israel accountable for war crimes grew louder in the aftermath of Abu Akleh’s killing.
The United States said it could not reach a conclusion in its investigation into the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, though the probe found the bullet had come from “positions” belonging to Israeli soldiers.
“After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the US Security Coordinator (USSC), could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” a state department statement read.
The statement alleged ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion.
“The USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh,” it said, referring to Israeli occupation forces.
However, it claimed it “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”.
The journalist was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper on 11 May while she was covering the Zionist state’s raids of Jenin as it seeks to expand its illegal settlements.
Donning a flak jacket and helmet, Abu Akleh clearly identified as a member of the press.
Responding to the results of the US probe, Palestine justice minister, Mohammed al-Shalaldeh said without matching the weapon to the bullet, the investigation remains incomplete, according to Al Jazeera.
In a statement, the journalist’s family described the results as “incredulous”.
“There were numerous eyewitnesses to the killing, and we have now
had the benefit of reports from multiple 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 of Jenin where
Shireen was murdered.
“The focus on the bullet has always been misplaced and was an attempt by the Israeli side to spin the narrative in its favour,” the family statement added, describing the
the findings as “frankly insulting to Shireen’s memory and ignores the history and context of the brutal and violent nature of what is now the longest military occupation in modern history.
“The truth is that the Israeli military killed Shireen according to policies that view
all Palestinians – civilian, press or otherwise – as legitimate targets, and we were
expecting that an American investigation would focus on finding the responsible
parties and holding them accountable, not parsing over barely-relevant details
and then assuming good faith on behalf of a recalcitrant and hostile occupying
“In other words, all available evidence suggests that a US citizen was the
subject of an extrajudicial killing by a foreign government that receives billions of
dollars in American military aid each year to perpetuate a prolonged and
entrenched military occupation of millions of Palestinians,” it read.
Rights group B’Tselem said “Israel’s international impunity remains unchallenged”.
“As far as Israel is concerned, its policy regarding the killing of Palestinians has never been anything other than an organized whitewash meant to enable the continuation of the killings with impunity, and it is no different when it comes to a US citizen as in the current case,” the rights organisation said on Monday.
The latest developments comes amid global calls for an independent investigation almost two months after the tragic murder of the journalist, who was on duty at the time of the shooting.
It also follows damning UN findings that pointed the blame at Israel, as per evidence.
Last week, the UN found that the bullet was fired by Israeli forces after inspecting photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.
The sniper, who admitted to the crime, had deliberately targeted a precise area in her head that was not covered with the helmet, completely shattering her skull, per testimonies by her life-long colleague Givara Budeiri.
In May, the Public Prosecution’s report on the killing found that Abu Akleh was shot using “an armour-piercing projectile”.
The bullet was later marked as a US-made, 5.56 mm round with a steel component used by NATO forces, dismissing Israeli claims that Palestinians fired the bullet.
‘All evidence points to Israel’
Speaking to Doha News, Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the International Criminal Court to pursue ongoing Israeli violations against Palestinians.
“All the evidence, including multiple serious, independent investigations, point to Israeli forces having gunned down Shireen Abu Akleh. Israeli authorities have a long track record of whitewashing abuses and have given every indication that they’ll do the same here,” Shakir said.
US media outlets have also conducted various investigations, amplifying the testimonies of the witnesses on site, with the most recent probes conducted by The New York Times and the Washington Post.
Despite the evidence, there has been a lack of accountability with the Israeli regime for killing the journalist, as well as mass crackdown on mourners that followed, in particular during her mass funeral. One of the pallbearers carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin was later detained by the Zionist state and was questioned.
Tel Aviv media outlet, Haaretz, reported in May that Israel will not be conducting a criminal probe into the funeral attacks.
“The killing and assault on Abu Akleh’s funeral procession took place amid a larger context where serious abuses are being committed with impunity. Victims of these grave abuses have faced a wall of impunity in Israel over many decades,” said Shakir.
Pressure on Biden administration
There has been mounting pressure on the US Joe Biden administration to conduct an investigation into the killing of the Palestinian-American journalist.
Under pressure from journalists, the US had called for an independent investigation into the killing of the Palestinian journalist. This came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was heckled at a conference in June.
“We are determined to follow the facts and get to the truth of what happened,” he said, though he denied any details of the incident have been conclusively established.
This was a clear change of stance by Washington, which had only previously called for transparency.
The latest developments come just weeks ahead of a planned Biden visit to Israel and the Middle East region.