The Israeli military has admitted that veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was “accidentally” killed by the regime’s gunfire in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin in May, saying, however, that it will open no criminal investigation into the brutal assassination.
The acknowledgement came on Monday after a final Israeli investigation concluded that there was a "high possibility" the Al Jazeera journalist had been shot dead by an Israeli soldier who mistook her for an armed Palestinian.
"There is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen," the Israeli probe said.
The report claimed that she could have been shot by Palestinian gunfire even though all independent investigations on the shooting have totally dispelled the allegation.
The Israeli army also announced that it had decided not to open a criminal investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing as there was no suspicion of a criminal offense that would justify the opening of a military police investigation.
Wearing press attire, the 51-year-old journalist was murdered in cold blood while covering an Israeli military raid in Jenin on May 11. Later, her funeral was also attacked by the regime forces.
Abu Akleh’s 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.”
‘Israeli report an attempt to evade responsibility’
Reacting to Monday’s Israeli admission, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the report on the killing of Abu Akleh as a new Israeli attempt to evade responsibility for her murder.
"All evidence, facts and investigations that have been conducted proved that Israel was the perpetrator and that it had killed Shireen and it should bear responsibility for its crime," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
The spokesman affirmed that the Palestinian leadership would continue to follow up on the brutal killing with all relevant international bodies, especially the International Criminal Court (ICC), to protect the rights of the veteran journalist as well as other Palestinians.
Abu Rudeineh further stressed that the Tel Aviv regime would not be allowed to escape punishment for its ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people.
Abu Akleh’s family reject Israeli report
The family of the slain Palestinian journalist dismissed the Israeli report on Monday, saying that Israel was trying to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility for her killing.
“The Israeli regime and military released a statement that tried to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility for killing Shireen Abu Akleh, our aunt, sister, best friend, journalist, and a Palestinian American. We’ve known for over 4 months now that an Israeli soldier shot and killed Shireen as countless investigations conducted by CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Al-Haq, B’tselem, the United Nations, and others have all concluded,” the family said in a letter.
"And yet, as expected, Israel has refused to take responsibility for murdering Shireen. Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it's obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed,” the letter added.
Calling on the US government to open a “thorough, independent, and credible” investigation into the killing, the family also pressed for a full International Criminal Court (ICC) probe and trial.
“Israel’s killing of our dear Shireen cannot be swept aside––no other family should have to endure what our family has had to. We cannot and will not stop until we have justice for Shireen. Thank you for your support,” the letter concluded.
More than 50 US lawmakers have so far called for an investigation into the crime. 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 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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