U.S. officials concluded that a gunshot from Israeli positions likely killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli attack on the occupied West Bank in May. But the State Department said Monday there was “no reason to believe” that her shooting was intentional.
In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said independent U.S.-led forensic analysts “could not reach a definitive conclusion on the origin of the bullet” that killed Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American. not. Price said ballistics experts “determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion” about who fired the shot.
Abu Akleh was a veteran correspondent known throughout the Arab world. She was shot and killed while covering an Israeli military attack on May 11 in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian eyewitnesses, including her crew, said Israeli troops killed her and that there were no militants in the immediate area.
The Palestinian Authority gave the bullet to U.S. investigators over the weekend, but was opposed to any Israeli role in the investigation.
Israel said the journalist was killed during a fight with Palestinian militants, but strongly denied that she was deliberately targeted. However, Israel acknowledged that an Israeli soldier may have accidentally hit her during an altercation with a militant.
U.S. security officials investigated the results of both Palestinian and Israeli investigations, Price said, and concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions was likely responsible for the journalist’s death.
The US, he said, “found no reason to believe it was intentional, but rather the result of tragic circumstances during a (Israeli Army) -leaded military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”