Israeli military says it has ID'd rifle that may have been used to kill Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
The Israeli military has identified a soldier's rifle that may have killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but said it cannot be certain unless the Palestinians turn over the bullet for analysis, a military official said Thursday.
Israel shot dead Abu Akleh on 11 May who was covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank, with Israel initially denying that it was responsible for the killing and blamed Palestinian gunmen.
After mounting evidence Israel was responsible, including witnesses at the scene, it walked back on these claims.
Journalists who tried to rescue Abu Akleh were also targeted and a colleague who was with the Al Jazeera reporter was also shot.
Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinians, but the Palestinians, who have the bullet, have refused, saying they don’t trust Israel.
They say they are conducting their own investigation and they are ready to cooperate with any country except for Israel.
The military official stressed that while the source of the shot is still unclear, "we have narrowed down the [Israeli] weapon that might be involved in the fire exchange near Shireen".
He renewed calls for the Palestinians to release the bullet, speaking on the condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines.
The Palestinians have been conducting their own investigation. Last Friday, the Palestinian public prosecutor said preliminary findings show Abu Akleh was killed by deliberate fire from Israeli troops. The prosecutor said the investigation would continue.
Bellingcat, an independent Dutch-based open-source research firm, has conducted its own analysis of material gathered largely from videos on social media. It said its initial findings lent support to Palestinian witnesses who say she was killed by Israeli fire.
Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American and 25-year veteran of the pan-Arab broadcaster, was killed by Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. She was a household name across the Arab world, known for documenting the hardship of Palestinian life under Israeli rule, now in its sixth decade.
The shooting drew condemnations and statements of concern from around the world. Israel also has been widely criticised for the behaviour of police, who pushed and beat mourners at her funeral last Friday, causing the pallbearers to nearly drop her coffin.