You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

US says Israeli military gunfire likely killed Al Jazeera journalist

ABC News logo ABC News 7/4/2022

A U.S. analysis of Israeli and Palestinian investigations has determined that gunfire from Israeli positions likely killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May but there was "no reason to believe" her shooting was intentional, the State Department said Monday.

An Israeli ballistics test of the actual bullet that killed her was inconclusive because of too much damage to the bullet that had been provided by the Palestinian Authority to U.S. security officials who monitored the new test, the U.S. statement said.

The finding came after what the U.S. said was inconclusive tests by independent ballistics experts under U.S. oversight of the bullet fragment recovered from Abu Akleh's body.

"Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion," said Ned Price, the State Department's spokesman.

Abu Akleh, a well-known correspondent for Al Jazeera, was killed during a May 11 firefight in the West Bank town of Jenin between Israeli troops and Palestinians. Her death has been controversial as Palestinians claimed she was killed by Israeli gunfire while Israeli forces steadfastly denied that was the case.

In this undated photo provided by Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera network, stands in an area where the Dome of the Rock shrine at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem is seen at right in the background. © Al Jazeera via AP In this undated photo provided by Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera network, stands in an area where the Dome of the Rock shrine at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem is seen at right in the background. MORE: Al Jazeera journalist killed in West Bank

The U.S. Security Coordinator's office in Israel, which monitors Israeli and Palestinian security arrangements, recently analyzed the full investigations carried out by Israel and the Palestinian Authority and determined that it was likely that the shot that killed her came from Israeli positions -- though it appeared to be unintentional.

"By summarizing both investigations, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh," Price said.

"The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel," his statement continued.

Israeli forces intervene as Palestinians carry the coffin of slain Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of the morgue of the Saint Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022. © Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, FILE Israeli forces intervene as Palestinians carry the coffin of slain Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of the morgue of the Saint Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022.

In late June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also reported that Israel was responsible for the shooting.

"All information we have gathered -- including official information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian Attorney-General -- is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities," it said in a statement.

"We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists," it added.

Over the weekend, the Palestinian Authority turned the bullets over to the U.S. Security Coordinator for new ballistic testing that they believed would show that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli soldiers.

A deal was worked out where the U.S. would monitor a ballistics test carried out by Israeli forensics efforts that the State Department and the Israeli Defense Forces said today was inconclusive because of damage to the bullet.

The physical condition of the bullet and the quality of the characteristics on it do not enable a ballistic examination to conclusively determine whether or not the bullet was fired from the weapon which was examined," said a statement from the Israeli Defense Forces that added that the IDF would use "all available means" to investigate Abu Akleh's shooting.

Her family issued a blistering response to the U.S. government's finding.

"With respect to today's announcement by the State Department -- on July 4, no less -- that a test of the spent round that killed Shireen Abu Akleh, an American citizen, was inconclusive as to the origin of the gun that fired it, we are incredulous," her family said.

"The focus on the bullet has always been misplaced and was an attempt by the Israeli side to spin the narrative in its favor, as if this were some kind of police whodunit that could be solved by a CSI-style forensic test," their statement said, in part.

It continued, "All available evidence suggests that a U.S. citizen was the subject of an extrajudicial killing by a foreign government that receives billions of dollars of American military aid each year to perpetuate a prolonged and entrenched military occupation of millions of Palestinians. We were hoping that, for example, the FBI or other relevant authorities would open a murder investigation, much like they do in ordinary cases when American citizens are killed abroad."

Abu Akleh's family ended their statement, saying, "We continue to call on the American government to conduct and open, transparent and thorough investigation of all the facts by independent agencies free from any political consideration or influence."

ABC News' Shannon Crawford and Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From ABC News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon