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Israeli security forces fired bullets that killed Shireen Abu Akleh, UN says

Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead on 11 May while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin

Joe Middleton
Friday 24 June 2022 15:45 BST
Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed last month
Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed last month (EPA)

Israeli security forces fired the bullets that killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May, a UN report has found.

Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera correspondent, was shot dead on 11 May while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin.

The UN’s report said that just after 6am seven journalists arrived at the refugee camp in Jenin. Half an hour later the group of reporters turned into a street and were shot at by Israeli forces.

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

Another journalist working for the publication Al-Quds, Ali Sammoudi, was also shot and wounded in the incident.

“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.

“We at the UN Human Rights Office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident.

“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.

Ms Shamdasani added that the UN’s monitoring of the incident involved going through photo, video and audio material.

It had also visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses, she added.

In a statement responding to the UN’s findings, Israel insisted it was not possible to say who had fired the shot and there had been an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen.

“Ever since the incident, the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] has been investigating and reviewing the circumstances of Ms Abu Akleh‘s death,” the statement said.

“The IDF investigation clearly concludes that Ms Abu Akleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately in her area or inadvertently by an IDF soldier.”

Israeli and Palestinian officials have exchanged recriminations over the incident, which has heightened tensions. Israel has denied that any of its soldiers “targeted a journalist”.

An earlier investigation by Palestinian authorities concluded that Israeli forces deliberately shot and killed the experienced reporter.

The incident has drawn strong worldwide condemnation, which was then exacerbated when Israeli forces attacked a crowd of mourners carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin.

The pandemonium nearly caused the pallbearers to drop the casket during the 14 May procession in east Jerusalem.

Footage shared on social media showed thousands of mourners at the event carrying Palestinian flags as they transported the body of the well-respected journalist from the St Louis French Hospital in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

Videos then showed Israeli security forces attacking a number of people at the funeral, including kicking and hitting them with batons.

Additional reporting by agencies

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