Israel admits it killed journalist ‘accidentally’
Israel will not be opening criminal investigations into any of its soldiers over the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) admitted on Monday that there is a “high possibility” that the journalist was “accidentally hit” by Israeli army fire.
An investigation into the incident launched by the Israeli military found that 51-year-old Abu Akleh was likely shot by an Israeli soldier who was under “wild and indiscriminate” gunfire and misidentified her as a Palestinian combatant.
The IDF added that it does not rule out the possibility that the journalist was killed by Palestinian gunfire.
Chief of Staff for the Israeli Army Aviv Kohavi stated that Abu Akleh’s death was “a devastating incident” which occurred “during operational activity to prevent Palestinian terror” and that the journalist was killed amid an “exchange of fire that lasted for almost an hour.”
The IDF said it will not be pursuing criminal charges or prosecution against any of the soldiers involved in the incident as there “was no suspicion of a criminal offense that warrants the opening of an MPCID investigation.”
The IDF’s conclusion however, seems to contradict the findings of investigations carried out by the UN and The Palestinian Authority, as well as several media outlets including CNN and Associated Press.
Video footage as well as eyewitness testimony unearthed by these investigations suggests that there was no active combat or any Palestinian militants near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to her death, which sparked international outrage.
Abu Akleh can also be seen wearing a protective vest and helmet that were clearly labeled “PRESS” on both the front and the back as she was standing next to other journalists who were also in their press gear. The IDF, however, insists that the Israeli soldiers did not know who they were shooting at.
CNN’s investigation back in May suggested that Abu Akleh, who was a veteran Al Jazeera Arabic TV correspondent and a household name in the Arab world, may have been intentionally targeted by Israeli forces.
Al Jazeera described the killing in a statement as “blatant murder” and said that Abu Akleh was “assassinated in cold blood” and has called for Israeli authorities to be held responsible for the incident.
Abu Akleh’s family rejected the results of the Israeli investigation, saying in a statement that it aims to “obscure the truth” of what happened. “Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it’s obvious to anyone the Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes,” the family’s statement reads.