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Palestine official: US protecting Israel in journalist killing case, regime must be held responsible

This file photo taken on May 13, 2022 shows Israeli forces attacking Palestinian mourners carrying the casket of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of a hospital, before being transported to a church and then her resting place, in al-Quds. (Photo by AFP)

A senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has accused the United States of protecting Israel over the killing of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, stressing that the Tel Aviv regime should be held accountable for the murder.  

Wasel Abu Yousef, the PLO's Executive Committee member, made the remarks on Monday, after Washington announced that a forensic analysis of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh has failed to reach a firm conclusion on its origin.

"The truth is clear but the US administration continues to stall in announcing it," he said, adding, "We say Israel killed Shireen Abu Akleh and it has to be held responsible for the crime it has committed."

Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary General of PLO's Executive Committee, also stressed, “We will not allow attempts to conceal the truth or to have shy references in pointing the finger of accusation to Israel.”

The occupation "bears responsibility for the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, and we will continue our procedures at the international courts," he said in a post on his Twitter account.

Abu Akleh family condemn US report, say “we are incredulous”

Meanwhile, Abu Akleh's family said in a statement it was "incredulous" that the examination could not determine whose gun fired the bullet that killed her.

"We will continue to advocate for justice for Shireen, and to hold the Israeli military ... accountable, no matter the attempts to obfuscate the reality of what happened on May 11," it said.

"The truth is that the Israeli military killed Shireen according to policies that view all Palestinians - civilian, press or otherwise - as legitimate targets, and we were expecting that an American investigation would focus on finding the responsible parties and holding them accountable, not parsing over barely-relevant details and then assuming good faith on behalf of a recalcitrant and hostile occupying power<" added the statement. 

In a statement released earlier in the day, the US State Department said Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, but independent investigators failed to reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that hit her.

The statement further said the US Security Coordinator (USSC), after summarizing investigations by both the Israeli military and the Palestinian Authority, have concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions was likely responsible for the death of Abu Akleh.

The USSC has found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an Israeli-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the statement added.

It also explained that in forensic analysis by third-party examiners overseen by the USSC, however, ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged which prevented a clear conclusion as to its origin.

This comes as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has already said its findings have shown the bullets that killed Abu Akleh were fired by Israeli forces.

Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian journalist for the Qatar-based and Arabic-language Al Jazeera television news network, was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

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.”

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 besieged 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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