US: Shot From Israeli Lines Probably Killed Journalist

Bullet was so damaged that forensic experts say they can't be certain
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2022 11:30 AM CDT
Updated Jul 4, 2022 2:55 PM CDT
Palestinians Turn Over Bullet in Journalist's Death to US
A Hamas security officer pulls a picture of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a presentation Thursday at a graduation ceremony for Al-Rebat College's Police Academy, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip.   (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Update: The gunshot that killed a journalist in the occupied West Bank probably came from an Israeli military position, the US State Department said Monday, but the bullet was so damaged that forensic experts can't be sure. Although they couldn't positively match the bullet to a gun, the statement said shots from the location of the Israel Defense Forces were "likely responsible for the death," the New York Times reports. US officials said they'd found no indications that the killing was intentional. Our story from Sunday follows:

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday said it has given the bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to American forensic experts, taking a step toward resolving a standoff with Israel over the investigation into her death. The announcement came just over a week before President Biden is to visit Israel and the occupied West Bank for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. It signaled that both sides may be working to find a solution to the deadlock, the AP reports. Abu Akleh, a veteran correspondent known throughout the Arab world, was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military raid on May 11 in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians, along with Abu Akleh's colleagues who were with her at the time, say she was killed by Israeli fire. The Israeli army says that she was caught in the crossfire of a battle with Palestinian gunmen, and that it is impossible to determine which side killed her without analyzing the bullet. Israel says that it has identified a rifle that may have shot her, but that it cannot draw any conclusions unless it is compared to the bullet. The Palestinians have refused to turn over the bullet, saying they don't trust Israel. Rights groups say Israel has a poor record investigating shootings of Palestinians by its troops, with probes languishing for months or years before they are quietly closed.

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The Palestinian attorney general, Akram al-Khateeb, said the bullet was given to US experts "for technical work." He reiterated the Palestinian refusal to share the bullet with the Israelis but said the Palestinians welcome the participation of international bodies to "help us confirm the truth," adding, "We are confident and certain of our investigations and the results we have reached." It was not immediately clear what the American experts could discover without also studying the Israeli weapon, or whether Israel would turn over the rifle to the Americans. An AP reconstruction supports eyewitnesses who say she was shot by Israeli troops. But a weapons expert it's impossible to reach a conclusive finding without further forensic analysis. Israeli leaders have repeatedly said that soldiers did not intentionally target her.

(More Al Jazeera stories.)

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