U.S. officials have concluded that a gunshot from Israeli positions likely killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank in May. But the State Department said Monday there was “no reason to believe” her shooting was intentional.
In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said independent forensic analysts overseen by the U.S., “could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet” that killed Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American. Price said ballistic experts “determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion” as to who fired the shot.
Abu Akleh was a veteran correspondent who was well known throughout the Arab world. She was shot and killed while covering an Israeli military raid on May 11 in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian eyewitnesses, including her crew, had said Israeli troops killed her and that there were no militants in the immediate vicinity.
The Palestinian Authority had given 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 battle with Palestinian militants, but strongly denied she was deliberately targeted. Israel acknowledged, however, that an Israeli soldier may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire with a militant.
U.S. security officials had examined results of both Palestinian and Israeli investigations, Price said, and concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions was likely responsible for the death of the journalist.
The U.S., he said, "found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an (Israel Defense Forces)-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad."