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Palestine’s attorney general says Israeli soldier behind tragic killing of veteran journalist

Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

The attorney general of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has confirmed that an Israeli soldier is behind the killing of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, more than two weeks after she was shot dead during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

Abu Akleh was shot in the head by Israeli forces on May 11, while she was standing with a group of journalists near the entrance of Jenin refugee camp, reporting on an Israeli raid on the camp.

Her tragic death sent shock waves across the region, drawing global condemnation. The United Nations and the European Union, among others, called for a full investigation into what has been described as a deliberate murder “in cold blood.”

On Thursday, Palestinian Attorney General Akram al-Khatib said an Israeli soldier gunned down Abu Akleh, confirming the results of a preliminary investigation announced nearly two weeks ago.

“It was clear that one of the [Israeli] occupation forces … had fired a bullet that hit journalist Shireen Abu Akleh directly in her head” while she was attempting to escape, al-Khatib told reporters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The attorney-general, who was reporting on the findings of a PA investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, added that she was hit with an armor-piercing bullet while she was wearing a helmet and a vest that was clearly marked with the word “PRESS.”

The bullet that killed Abu Akleh is a 5.56 mm round with a steel component used by NATO forces, al-Khatib said, adding, “The only source of firing was by the occupation forces with the aim to kill.”

While the Tel Aviv regime claims that Abu Akleh was killed as she was caught in the crossfire, the attorney general said the investigation showed that there were no Palestinian fighters near the scene of the shooting.

The probe also refutes Israel’s claim that the bullet may have came from the Palestinians.

Al-Khatib also said an autopsy and forensic examination conducted in Nablus after Abu Akleh’s death showed she was shot from the back, indicating that she was trying to flee as Israeli soldiers continued to fire toward the group of journalists near the entrance of the Jenin refugee camp.

Another journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was also wounded by a bullet to the back at the scene. He is now in a stable condition.

“Ali Samoudi was hit by a bullet in his back, and the Israeli occupation forces continued their attack on the journalists, who tried to escape and leave,” Al Khatib said.

Qatar's Al Jazeera TV Network announced later on Thursday that it will refer the killing of its journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Al Jazeera's legal team alongside international legal experts will prepare a file on the killing of Abu Akleh to refer it to the ICC.

On Tuesday, an investigative report by CNN also revealed that Abu Akleh was intentionally targeted by Israeli fire. The report is based on 11 videos of the incident at the Jenin refugee camp taken earlier this month, forensic findings, sound analysis of the gunshots and the testimonies by at least 80 eyewitnesses.

The Israeli regime initially made an offer of joint probe into the killing but later withdrew it, fearing backlash at home. 

Following the incident, the Israeli military asked the Palestinian Authority to hand over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh to Israeli authorities for investigation. The Palestinian president refused to do so, stressing that the regime cannot be trusted.

Eyewitnesses and journalists who were with Abu Akleh on the day she was shot described the shooting as a “deliberate attempt” to kill journalists.

More than 50 US lawmakers have so far called for an investigation into the crime as Tel Aviv is refusing to launch a probe.

Over 100 leading artists from across the world have also condemned Israel’s killing of Abu Akleh, demanding accountability for the regime’s crimes.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already opened an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel in both the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, Israel does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction and has called the war crimes probe unfair and anti-Semitic.

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