Shireen Abu Akleh: Eyewitness accounts appear to support claims Al Jazeera journalist was killed by Israeli gun | World News


Eyewitness accounts appear to support Palestinian claims that Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by a bullet fired from an Israeli gun.

Ms Abu Akleh was shot in the head while covering an Israeli raid at a West Bank refugee camp on Wednesday, 11 May.

Palestinian authorities say the 51-year-old was killed by Israeli forces, while Israel’s foreign ministry claims she was shot dead by “Palestinian terrorists” who were “firing indiscriminately”.

Associated Press reporters have visited the location in Jenin where Ms Abu Akleh was killed, as well as the scene of a nearby battle with Israeli forces captured in a video shared by the Israelis.

Interviews with five Palestinian eyewitnesses corroborate analysis by the Dutch-based Bellingcat research group indicating Israeli forces were closer to Ms Abu Akleh than Palestinian militants and had a better line of sight.

The group, which specialises in geolocating events in war zones by analysing photos and video shared online, pinpointed the location of the Israeli convoy just up a narrow road from where Ms Abu Akleh was killed.

Multiple videos and photos taken on the morning of the journalist’s death show the convoy parked just up a narrow road with a clear line of sight to her.

They show the reporter and other bystanders taking cover from bullets fired from the direction of the convoy.

The only confirmed presence of Palestinian militants was on the other side of the convoy, some 300 metres (656ft) away, mostly separated from Ms Abu Akleh by buildings and walls.

Israeli officials said at least one militant was between the convoy and the journalists, but it has not provided any evidence or indicated the shooter’s location.

Read more: How two videos represent two versions of a journalist’s death

Palestinian witnesses say there were no militants in the area and no gunfire until the barrage that struck Ms Abu Akleh and wounded another reporter.

Those witnesses say they have no doubt that it was Israeli soldiers who killed Ms Abu Akleh, now celebrated as a martyr to both journalism and the Palestinian cause.

The Israeli military said she was killed in a complex shoot-out between soldiers and militants, and that only a full investigation – including forensic analysis of the bullet – could prove who fired the fatal shot.

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Violence at journalist’s funeral

Almost two weeks after Ms Abu Akleh’s death, it appears any conclusive answer as to how she died will remain elusive because of severe distrust between Israeli and Palestinian authorities, each of whom are in sole possession of potentially crucial evidence.

The Palestinians have refused to hand over the bullet recovered from her body or to cooperate with Israel in any way on the investigation, but say they will share the results of their own probe with any other party.

Ms Abu Akleh’s death has heightened tensions in the Middle East and raised new concerns over the safety of reporters covering Israel’s nearly 55-year military occupation of the West Bank, which the Palestinians want as the main part of their future state.

The day after Ms Abu Akleh’s death, thousands of people gathered for a memorial service while her body was carried through the streets of Jerusalem.

At one point, Israeli police even attacked the pallbearers, causing the coffin to slip and nearly crash to the ground.

The following day, Israeli police fired tear gas and attempted to arrest mourners at her funeral in Jerusalem.


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