Washington, Sep 5 (EFE).- The United States on Monday urged accountability for the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh after Israel’s defense forces said she could have been “accidentally hit” by army fire.
“Today, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported that it had concluded its investigation into the circumstances surrounding Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, and stated there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“We welcome Israel’s review of this tragic incident, and again underscore the importance of accountability in this case, such as policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”
Price gave as an example a plan approved by the US Department of Defense at the end of August that seeks to mitigate civilian casualties caused by its military operations and offered to share it with the Israel and allies.
He added that Abu Akleh, who was also a US citizen, was a “fearless reporter whose journalism and pursuit of truth earned her the respect of audiences around the world.”
“Our thoughts remain with the Abu Akleh family as they grieve this tremendous loss – and with the many others worldwide who brought Shireen and her news reports into their homes for more than two decades,” he said.
The Israeli army said Monday in a report that troops could have shot the Palestinian journalist “accidentally,” but will not be opening a criminal investigation into her death.
“There is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers,” the IDF said.
This version contradicts witnesses, investigations by media organizations and rights groups, and videos in which there is no evidence of Palestinian militia in the area, nor that troops were fired at in the minutes prior to the lethal shot that killed the Palestinian journalist.
“After a comprehensive examination of the incident, and based on all the findings, the Military Advocate General found that under the circumstances of the case, there is no suspicion of a criminal offense that justifies the opening of a Military Police investigation,” the report said.
The journalist’s family said they were “deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed” by Israel’s decision not to open a criminal investigation, and said Israel tried to “obscure the truth and avoid responsibility for killing Shireen.”
The Palestinian National Authority accused the Israeli forces of “deliberately” targeting and killing Abu Akleh.
Weeks ago, the US supervised an examination of the bullet that killed the journalist and determined that she was “likely” shot by Israeli forces, although the analysis “could not reach a definitive conclusion.”
“Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion,” the State Department said, and Washington demanded that Israel make its findings known. EFE