US Says Israeli Military Gunfire ‘Likely Responsible’ for Shireen Abu Akleh’s Death, But Bullet Examination Inconclusive

The US Security Coordinator, according to the statement, “concluded that firing from IDF (Israel Defense Forces) positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.” That conclusion came “by summing up” both the IDF and Palestinian Authority (PA) investigations, investigations to which the US Security Coordinator had “full access” over the past few weeks, Price said.

The US Security Coordinator, who heads an interagency team coordinating with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, “found no reason to believe this was intentional, but rather the result of tragic circumstances during a U.S.-led military operation.” IDF vs factions”. Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022 in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel,” Price said.

“We again offer our deepest condolences to the family of Abu Akleh,” he said.

The family said in a statement Monday that they were “incredulous” with the findings and the “notion that US investigators, whose identity is not disclosed in the statement, believe the bullet ‘likely came from Israeli positions’ is of no consolation.” “.

Ali al-Samoudi, an Al Jazeera journalist who was shot along with Abu Akleh, said he was “waiting” for the inconclusive results and called the US the real “enemy of democracy and human rights”.

Price said the United States will “remain engaged” with Israel and the Palestinian Authority and “call for accountability.”

He noted that examination of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was “extremely detailed” and that “independent outside examiners, as part of a process overseen by the US Security Coordinator,” were unable to definitively conclude its origin.

“Ballistics experts determined that the bullet was badly damaged, which precluded a clear conclusion,” Price said.

Following the US findings, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that “the IDF investigation was unable to determine who is responsible for the tragic death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but was able to conclusively determine that there was no intention to harm her.” Israel, Lapid said, “expresses sorrow at her death” and gave its “full and unequivocal support” to the IDF soldiers.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a separate statement that “it is not possible to determine the source of the shooting and as such the investigation will continue.”

The IDF said that the forensic analysis was carried out at a forensic laboratory in Israel by Israeli experts while representatives of the US Security Coordinator were present.

“Despite these efforts, the physical condition of the bullet and the quality of its characteristics do not allow a ballistics examination to conclusively determine whether or not the bullet was fired from the examined weapon,” according to an IDF statement. .

The Palestinian public prosecutor said on Monday that it was “not true” that the bullet was badly damaged.

Palestinian Authority Attorney General Akram Al Khatib said on Saturday that the United States had given “guarantees” to the Palestinian Authority that the bullet would not be delivered to the Israelis, and did not respond to follow-up questions after the IDF said they were involved. The US embassy in Jerusalem told CNN on Monday that it had no additional comment on who exactly was examining the bullet.

Abu Akleh’s family criticized the focus on the bullet that killed her in their statement, calling the emphasis “misplaced” and “an attempt by the Israeli side to spin the narrative in their favor.”

They also noted that “there were numerous eyewitnesses to the assassination, 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 Jenin area where Shireen was killed.”

A CNN investigation in May uncovered evidence, including two videos from the scene of the shooting, that there was no active fighting, or Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments before his death. Footage obtained by CNN, corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, a forensic audio analyst and an explosive weapons expert, suggested that Abu Akleh, who was wearing a helmet and blue protective vest emblazoned with “Press” at the time of his murder, he was shot to death. in an attack led by Israeli forces.

CNN is among at least five media outlets that have conducted investigations suggesting the shot was fired from a position where Israeli troops were stationed. None of the investigations found evidence of Palestinian militants near Abu Akleh when he was shot, or of militants who had a direct line of fire towards her. An investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Office reached the same conclusions as the journalistic investigations.

Abu Akleh’s family vowed Monday to continue defending her, writing in their statement that to say that the US investigation, “with its complete lack of transparency, undefined objectives and support for Israel’s overall position, is a disappointment would be an understatement.” .

“We continue to call on the US government to conduct an open, transparent and thorough investigation of all events by independent agencies free from any political consideration or influence,” the family said.

Two dozen US senators last month called for direct US involvement in the Abu Akleh murder investigation. US President Joe Biden plans to visit Israel and the West Bank later this month.

The family previously said they had not been informed that the bullet was being turned over to US officials.

A US official told CNN ahead of the findings’ release that Washington had been pressuring the Palestinians to give them access to the bullet that killed Abu Akleh for weeks, and the State Department’s findings come after Legislators in both the House and Senate will call for US government involvement to ensure accountability for Abu Akleh’s murder.

Palestinian officials made the bullet available to US authorities on Saturday. Palestinian Authority Justice Minister Mohammad Al-Shalaldeh told Al Jazeera on Sunday night that US officials had returned the bullet.

This story has been updated with additional details on Monday.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood and Tamara Qiblawi contributed to this report.

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