'Very likely' that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire, say military high command: report
Israeli military officials said on Friday that it is "very likely" Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was hit by Israeli fire, local media reported.
Eyewitness testimony and footage from the scene have shown that the 51-year-old veteran journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
Sources informed on the meeting of the Israeli high command told Israeli news outlet Channel 12 that military officials defined this as "very likely".
The meeting was chaired by military chief Aviv Kochavi, who reportedly called the assessment "premature and speculative", and ordered further investigation and reconstruction of the events surrounding Abu Akleh’s killing.
In the hours after Abu Akleh was killed, Israeli officials said she was "likely" hit by Palestinian militant fire.
However, several eyewitness accounts of the incident - including that of fellow journalist Ali Samoudi, who was wounded in the fire - reject Israel's account of how Abu Akleh was killed.
"We, journalists, had made ourselves visible to Israeli forces, as we always do, to avoid putting our lives in danger, because getting footage is not more important than our lives," he said.
Saleem Awad, a resident of Jenin and another eyewitness, told The New Arab: "There were absolutely no clashes and no Palestinian gunmen where the killing happened."
Israel military officials then backtracked on the initial claims, instead saying it was unclear whose fire killed Abu Akleh.
The Israeli army continues to allege that it needs access to the bullet which killed the veteran Al Jazeera reporter to determine responsibility for her death. The bullet remains in Palestinian custody.