The IDF investigation to Shireen Abu Akleh’s death

July 5, 2022 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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The IDF has released conclusions made by its official investigation into the shooting death of reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during a clash between the IDF and the terrorist group Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin.

The IDF investigation concluded that the source of the fire that led to the death of Ms Abu Akleh could not be determined based on the available information.

In addition, the IDF investigation conclusively determined that no IDF soldier deliberately fired at Ms. Abu Akleh.

The news comes just hours after the U.S. State Department released a report on its own official investigation into the shooting, which included an examination of a bullet said to be the one that killed Abu Akleh. It said that after an “extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”

The IDF explained that since March 2022, 19 people have been killed in multiple terrorist attacks in Israel. In response to this deadly wave of terror, the IDF and Israeli security forces have been carrying out counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria with the aim of thwarting potential terror attacks, stopping terrorist activity and protecting Israeli civilians.

This was the background behind the IDF operation conducted against Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin, during which Abu Akleh was killed. At the time of the operation the IDF says that what it described as Palestinian gunmen fired “heavily and indiscriminately, including directly toward IDF soldiers.” In addition, explosives were hurled and hit IDF vehicles and nearly hit soldiers. The IDf said that Abu Akleh was shot near the conclusion of its counterterrorism activities in the area.

“Ever since this tragic incident, the IDF has been examining and reviewing the circumstances of Ms. Abu Akleh’s death,” it said in a statement. “The Chief of the General Staff ordered a special task force composed of experts in different fields, among other things, to reconstruct and model the circumstances of the incident as accurately as possible.”

This past Saturday, the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) received the bullet that was alleged to have killed the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh from Palestinian authorities, in order to conduct a professional and impartial ballistic examination. The bullet remained under the custodianship of Lieutenant General general Michael R. Fenzel after receiving it from the PA until it was returned yesterday (Sunday) after the examination was conducted.

A ballistic examination was conducted in a forensic laboratory in Israel. Israeli experts examined the bullet in order to determine the connection between the bullet and the weapon from which it was fired. USSC representatives were present throughout the entire process.

“Despite these efforts,” explained the IDF, “the physical condition of the bullet and the quality of the characteristics on it do not enable a ballistic examination to conclusively determine whether or not the bullet was fired from the weapon which was examined.”

Following these findings, the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi, ordered the investigation be continued while “using all available means, committed to transparency and seeking out the truth.”

The decision of the Military Advocate General regarding whether to launch a criminal investigation will be made following the conclusion of the IDF’s operational examination.

The IDF reiterated that it will continue to “thwart terrorism wherever needed while taking precautions and measures to prevent harm to non-combatants.” The IDF also stated that it regrets harm to non-combatants, including during an exchange of fire or active combat zones, and is “fully committed to protecting the sanctity of human life and the protection of the freedom of the press.”

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