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IDF admits ‘high possibility’ that stray Israeli bullet killed Abu Akleh

But won't launch a criminal investigation since bullet was not fired deliberately, army says in a statement

Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh (Photo: Twitter)

An Israeli investigation has concluded that it is impossible to determine who fired the bullet that killed a Palestinian journalist, but “there is a high possibility that Ms. (Shireen) Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire.”

The Israel Defense Forces released its findings today, saying that Abu Akleh was hit “during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers.”

“Additionally, it is important to emphasize and clarify that throughout the entire incident, IDF gunfire was fired with the intent of neutralizing the terrorists who shot at IDF soldiers, also from the area in which Ms. Shireen Abu Akleh was present,” the army said in a statement released to the media. “Another possibility which remains relevant is that Ms. Abu Akleh was hit by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen.”

The IDF was in the Palestinian city of Jenin on May 11 conducting a counterterrorism raid, the army said, when soldiers and Palestinians exchanged heavy gunfire. 

“The gunmen fired continuously, and hurled explosive devices, at IDF soldiers. During the operational activity, the Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed and the journalist Ali Samudi was injured,” the army said. 

The United Nations, CNN, The Washington Post and The Associated Press separately concluded that Israel was responsible, as did the Palestinian Authority. Other journalists who were present claim there were no Palestinian fighters at the scene when she was killed.

The IDF said it would not open a criminal investigation because "there was no suspicion of a criminal offense."

"The decision was based on the findings of the review, which determined that IDF soldiers only aimed fire at those who were identified as armed terrorists during the incident," the IDF said. "As such, there was no suspicion that a bullet was fired deliberately at anyone identified as a civilian and in particular at anyone identified as a journalist."

Abu Akleh's family released as statement after the IDF announcement saying they "have known for four months now that an Israeli soldier shot and killed Shireen."

“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 the Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes,” the statement read.

The family – who met with American officials in Washington this summer – added that they expected the United States to hold Israel accountable. Abu Akleh was a Palestinian-American who grew up in Jerusalem and was part of the Greek Catholic community.

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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