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Israeli military doesn't plan criminal probe into Abu Akleh's killing

  • 19 May 2022

Military says 'no suspicion' of a criminal act, Israeli media reported, adding that soldiers part of the deadly raid on the occupied West Bank had testified that they ‘had not seen’ the Al Jazeera journalist when she was shot and killed.

In a sign of Abu Akleh's prominence, she was given what was described as a full state memorial at Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's compound in Ramallah. ( AP )

Israel's military does not plan to conduct a criminal investigation into the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead while covering an Israeli raid on the occupied West Bank, according to a media report.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday that officials appeared to believe that a criminal investigation into the killing — which Palestinian authorities have blamed on Israel's troops — will not generate any result.

"...the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to conduct an autopsy and to hand over the bullet that was removed from her body for a joint ballistic exam, makes final findings difficult," the Haaretz said.

Importantly, there is no suspicion of a criminal act, the report said, and added that Israeli soldiers part of the raid had testified that they did not see the journalist and "aimed their fire at (Palestinian) gunmen".  

It said another reason for the decision was "the belief that such an investigation, which would necessitate questioning as potential criminal suspects soldiers for their actions during a military operation," would spark opposition within the military as well as the Israeli society.

There was no official word by Israel's government or military on the report.

READ: Independent probe points to Israeli bullet in Shireen Abu Akleh's killing

Palestine condemns 

Palestine's Foreign Ministry has condemned the reported decision of the Israeli military.

The Haaretz said Al Jazeera reporter Abu Akleh was shot and killed on the outskirts of Burqin, a village adjacent to the Jenin refugee camp, while the military was conducting an "arrest sweep in the camp". 

It said Palestinian gunmen fired at the soldiers. A probe into the shooting found six instances of military gunfire at armed Palestinians who were near Abu Akleh and other journalists. 

In one of them, a commando returned fire, from inside an armoured jeep, at a gunman, the Haaretz report said.

"The Palestinian emerged from behind a wall, while the jeep was about 190 meters from the reporter. It is during this incident that the army fears Abu Akleh may have been shot."

Al Jazeera and Palestinian authorities say Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was killed by Israel's forces and demand they be held accountable.

Israel initially suggested "armed Palestinians" were "likely" responsible for the incident that has drawn global condemnation, but later said it was unclear who fired the fatal shot.

The United States, United Nations, European Union, Türkiye and several countries in Western Asia have condemned the killing and demanded a fair probe.

In an interview shortly before her death, Abu Akleh had described herself as a "product of Jerusalem", with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shaping much of her life.

Her colleagues at the Qatari state-owned channel describe her as a courageous journalist who gave voice to the voiceless.

READ MORE: How Shireen Abu Akleh inspired a generation of female reporters

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