Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday pledged to take action against Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague over the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin on Wednesday.
Speaking at a ceremony for Akleh in Ramallah, Abbas said he would demand the ICC “punish the criminals” who caused her death.
Akleh, 51, was killed during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen. Her funeral was slated to be held in eastern Jerusalem, where she resided.
While it is not yet known which side fired the bullet that killed her, Al Jazeera and the P.A. have accused the Israeli military of “murder.”
The P.A. has refused Israel’s requests to hold any form of joint investigation into the matter. P.A. Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh confirmed on Thursday that Ramallah will not allow Israel to examine the bullet that killed Akleh.
According to al-Sheikh, the investigation will be carried out independently by the P.A. and the findings will be forwarded to the relevant bodies, including the United States, as Akleh was also an American citizen. Al-Sheikh said the P.A. believes the journalist was killed by IDF gunfire, while Israel maintains that this is unlikely and that the higher probability is that she was hit by indiscriminate Palestinian gunfire.
Following Akleh’s death, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi ordered a special task force to investigate the incident “using all the means at our disposal to discern the truth.” IDF Commando Brigade chief Col. Meni Liberty will lead the investigation, the military said.
On Wednesday night, thousands protested in various locations in Israel over Akleh’s death. Several thousand Palestinians gathered at Al Jazeera’s offices in Ramallah, holding signs with her picture.
Several hundred people gathered outside her family home in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina. Earlier on Wednesday evening, disturbances were reported in the neighborhood when the police tried to disperse a protest march where some of the protesters were carrying the Palestinian flag.
Meanwhile, a senior Israeli defense official said the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit had requested the bullet that was found in Akleh’s body in order to run a forensic test. For the sake of transparency, Israeli officials proposed that Palestinian and American representatives be present during the testing. The P.A. has refused to cooperate.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price signaled that the Biden administration would not call for an independent investigation into the killing.
“The Israelis have the wherewithal and the capabilities to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation,” Price told reporters during a press briefing.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.