Israel admits security forces may have killed Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Ramallah, Palestinian Territories — Palestinians planned a memorial service on Thursday for journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was killed while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank, but has rejected US-led calls for a joint investigation into her death. Palestinian-American Abu Akleh, 51, a veteran of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Arab television service, was shot in the head during clashes in the Jenin refugee camp, a major flashpoint in the conflict. Israeli-Palestinian.

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz admitted Wednesday night that it could have been “the Palestinians who shot at him” or fired from “our side,” appearing to walk back Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s comments that ” probably” was killed by stray Palestinian fire.

“We’re not sure how she was killed, but we want to get to the bottom of this incident and find out as much of the truth as we can,” Gantz told reporters.

Al Jazeera, Palestinian officials and witnesses said Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces, with the network insisting she was targeted “deliberately” and “in cold blood”.

Palestinian protesters shout slogans and hold Palestinian flags and banners bearing the photo of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, near her home in Jerusalem on May 11. of 2022.

REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israel has publicly called for a joint investigation into the killing and has asked the Palestinian authorities to hand over the bullet that struck Abu Akleh for forensic examination.

An Israeli security source told AFP that Israel was prepared to examine the projectile in front of Palestinian and US officials, “for transparency”.

The European Union has called for an “independent” investigation, while the United States has demanded that the murder be “investigated with transparency,” repeated calls by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

An initial autopsy and forensic examination were carried out in Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, hours after his death, but no final conclusions have been revealed.

Israel Palestinian Journalist Killed
An undated photo released by the Al Jazeera network shows Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for the Al Jazeera network.

Al Jazeera via AP

Senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein Al-Sheikh, a close confidant of President Mahmoud Abbas, ruled out a joint investigation.

“Israel has requested a joint investigation and the delivery of the bullet that killed journalist Shireen. We refused that and stated that our investigation would be completed independently,” Al-Sheikh said on Twitter.

“We will inform his family, the #USA, #Qatar and all official authorities and the public of the results of the investigation with great transparency. All indicators, evidence and witnesses confirm his murder at the hands of special units of # Israel”.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price echoed the sentiments of US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides on Wednesday, condemning the killing of Abu Akleh and calling for an “immediate and thorough” investigation into the killing. shooting. Price called it “an affront to media freedom everywhere”.

Abu Akleh rose to fame for Arab audiences after joining Al Jazeera in 1997 and through his coverage of the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, from 2000 to 2005.

“She was the sister of all Palestinians,” her brother Antoun told AFP at the family home in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem. “What happened cannot be silenced… She will not be forgotten.”

As a sign of her status among Palestinians, she was set to receive what the Palestinians called a full state monument at the presidential compound in Ramallah on Thursday morning.

His death came almost a year after a Israeli air strike destroyed a building in Gaza which housed the offices of Al Jazeera and the AP news agency.

Tensions have risen again in recent months, as Israel has grappled with a wave of attacks who have killed at least 18 people since March 22, including an Arab-Israeli police officer and two Ukrainians.

A total of 31 Palestinians and three Israeli Arabs have been killed during the same period, according to an AFP tally, including perpetrators of attacks and killed by Israeli security forces in West Bank operations.

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