American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, killed on May 11 in the occupied West Bank, was “likely” the victim of a shot from an Israeli position, American experts having “no reason” to believe that it was intentional shooting, the State Department said Monday.
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The American analysis, however, could not reach a definitive conclusion as to the origin of the bullet that killed the correspondent of Al-Jazeera, who was covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin that day, the projectile being "very damaged,” the statement said.
The death of Ms. Abu Akleh, a well-regarded and well-known journalist from the Qatari channel, shook the Middle East. Both the Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera-funding country Qatar immediately accused the Israeli army of killing her.
Ramallah, who had always refused to hand over the projectile to the Israeli army, had finally entrusted it to the Americans for expertise, the latter having undertaken to return it to the Palestinians.
But the Israeli army said on Monday it conducted a "ballistic examination" of the bullet itself -- 5.56mm caliber and fired by a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, according to the Palestinian prosecutor -- in the presence of " American security officials.
The Palestinian Authority did not react immediately on Monday, but a Palestinian official told AFP the day before, on condition of anonymity, that the possibility of Israel examining the ball entrusted to the United States raised questions about whether the Americans could be "trusted".
Israel continues to claim that it is impossible to know the exact origin of the shooting, Israeli or Palestinian, and continues to rule out a deliberate shooting in any case.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded on June 24 that the Israeli army was responsible, an investigation dismissed as "unfounded" by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
For their analysis, US authorities say they have had “full access” to investigations by Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority in recent weeks.
"The United States (...) continues to encourage cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in this important matter" and "urges accountability" in the matter, the spokesperson added on Monday. of American diplomacy, Ned Price.
These latest developments come less than ten days before a visit by US President Joe Biden to Israel and the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, as part of his first tour of the Middle East since his accession to the White House.