The Israeli military has identified an Israeli Defence Force soldier’s rifle that may have killed Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but says it cannot be certain unless the Palestinians turn over the bullet for analysis, a military official said Thursday. This follows the the multiple investigations into the killing of Abu Akleh, who was fatally shot on May 11th while wearing press gear and covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli military official stressed that while the source of the shot is still unclear, “we have narrowed down the IDF weapon that might be involved in the fire exchange near Shireen.”. If Palestine gives over the bullet Israel will “hopefully be able to compare the bullet to that barrel and check if there is a match.” He spoke on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines. The Israeli military last week released the results of a preliminary investigation that offered two possible causes of death. In one they claim Shireen had been hit by Palestinian gunfire during a fierce shootout with Israeli troops. In another they say she “might” have been hit by an Israeli soldier who shot through a “designated firing hole” in a military vehicle at a Palestinian gunman who was shooting at the vehicle. Claiming they needed the bullet to determine the source of the shot. This clashed with eyewitnesses reporting of the shooting and the situation in which they claim Shireen was precisely shot in the head where her protective helmet and press vest didn’t cover.
Palestinian authorites have been conducting their own investigation. Last Friday, the Palestinian public prosecutor said preliminary findings show Shiree. was killed by deliberate fire from Israeli troops. The prosecutor said the investigation would continue. Bellingcat, an independent Dutch-based OSINT research firm, has conducted its own analysis of material gathered largely from videos on social media. Finding evidence to support Palestinian witnesses who say she was killed by Israeli fire.
Israel has called for a joint investigation with Palestinians, who have the bullet, and have refused, saying they don’t trust Israel and the integrity of their investigation. They say they are conducting their own investigation and they are ready to cooperate with any country except for Israel.
Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American and 25-year veteran of news, was killed in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. She was a household name across the Arab world, known for documenting the hardships of Palestinian life under Israeli rule, now in its sixth decade. Her shooting drew condemnations from around the world. Israel also has been widely recently criticized for the behavior of police, who pushed, brutalized, and beat mourners and funeral procession goers at her funeral last Friday, causing the pallbearers to nearly drop her coffin.