Israeli forces fired shots that killed Abu Akleh — UN

1. Shireen
This handout file photo obtained from a former colleague of Al Jazeera’s late veteran TV journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, shows her reporting for the Doha-based news channel from Jerusalem on July 22, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
GENEVA, Switzerland  — The UN said Friday it found that Israeli occupation forces fired the shot that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, according to AFP.اضافة اعلان

The Palestinian-American TV reporter, who was wearing a vest marked “Press” and a helmet, was killed while covering a raid by Israeli forces on Jenin camp in the northern West Bank.

“We find that the shots that killed Abu Akleh came from Israeli security forces,” UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

“It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.”

She said the Human Rights Office had concluded its own independent monitoring into the incident.

“All information we have gathered ... is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities,” she said.

“We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists.”

Her killing led to outrage from Palestinians and around the world, with thousands attending her funeral in occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera reported. Israeli forces attacked the pallbearers at the funeral, almost causing Abu Akleh’s coffin to fall to the ground.

Multiple witnesses said that Israeli forces killed the veteran reporter. Investigations conducted by several media organizations have also come to the same conclusion.

‘Seemingly well-aimed bullets’
In line with its human rights monitoring methodology, the UN rights office inspected photo, video, and audio material; visited the scene; consulted experts; reviewed official communications; and interviewed witnesses.

The probe included information from Israeli forces and the Palestinian attorney general.

The UN rights office found that seven journalists arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin camp soon after 6am.

“The journalists said they chose a side street for their approach to avoid the location of armed Palestinians inside the camp and that they proceeded slowly in order to make their presence visible to the Israeli forces deployed down the street,” Shamdasani said. “Our findings indicate that no warnings were issued, and no shooting was taking place at that time and at that location.”

At around 6:30am, as four of the journalists turned into a particular street, “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli security forces.

“One single bullet injured Ali Sammoudi in the shoulder; another single bullet hit Abu Akleh in the head and killed her instantly.”

Several further single bullets were fired as an unarmed man attempted to approach Abu Akleh’s body and another uninjured journalist sheltering behind a tree, said Shamdasani.

Shots continued to be fired as this individual eventually managed to carry away Abu Akleh’s body, she added.

Israel demands bullet
In response, Israel forces said it was “not possible” to determine how Abu Akleh was killed.

Israel has claimed that, according to an internal investigation, Israeli forces did not intentionally fire at Abu Akleh and that “it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately ... or inadvertently by (Israeli forces).”

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, initially tried to argue that Palestinian gunmen could have killed Abu Akleh.

However, Israel later backtracked and said it could not rule out the possibility that an Israeli soldier had fired the shot.

The official Palestinian investigation found that the Qatari television channel’s star reporter was killed after being hit by a bullet just below her helmet.

Their report said Abu Akleh was killed with a 5.56mm armor-piercing round fired from a Ruger Mini-14 rifle.

Israel’s mission in Geneva said the UN finding “deplorably fails to mention the main obstacle to establishing the truth in this tragic incident: the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to conduct a joint investigation and hand over the bullet”.

“Without this evidence, it is not possible for any ‘independent monitoring’ to legitimately conclude” how Abu Akleh was killed, it said.

Criminal investigation call
Her niece Lina Abu Akleh asked on Twitter: “So what’s going to happen now? How many more reports do we need for them to be held accountable?”

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged Israel to open a criminal investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing and into all other killings by Israeli forces in the West Bank and in the context of law enforcement operations in Gaza.

“Since just the beginning of the year, our office has verified that Israeli security forces have killed 58 Palestinians in the West Bank, including 13 children,” said Shamdasani.

“International human rights law requires prompt, thorough, transparent, independent, and impartial investigation into all use of force resulting in death or serious injury. Perpetrators must be held to account.”

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