The Israeli military has dismissed as “baseless” a report by CNN on Tuesday claiming that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was intentionally killed by Israeli forces in Jenin.
Citing “new evidence,” the CNN report claims that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces in a “targeting shooting” during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian terrorists in Jenin on May 11.
“While the footage does not show Abu Akleh being shot, eyewitnesses told CNN that they believe Israeli forces on the same street fired deliberately on the reporters in a targeted attack. All of the journalists were wearing protective blue vests that identified them as members of the news media,” the report said. It cited Palestinian journalist Satah Hanaysha, who was on the scene, eight other eyewitnesses and various experts.
The IDF Spokesperson Unit said in response that “since the incident occurred, the IDF has been investigating and clarifying the circumstances of the journalist’s death in an in-depth and thorough manner. The intermediate investigation that was publicized found that it is not possible to determine the source of fire that … killed the journalist,” according to Maariv.
“The claim that the gunfire was targeted lacks any basis,” the spokesperson continued.
“In the context of arrests that the IDF conducts as part of its response to terrorism, widespread and uncontrollable fire was directed at an IDF unit, alongside precise fire and the hurling of explosives at military vehicles, and near the soldiers. Towards the end of the operation, a Palestinian journalist was hit as she stood within the combat zone during an exchange of fire,” said the military.
“A transfer of the bullet for a ballistic analysis could determine what happened. As of now, the Palestinians have ignored our request to hold a joint investigation or to send us the results of their investigation, including the bullet. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has instructed that the investigation continue and that all available tools be used to clarify the incident, out of a commitment to transparency and seeking the truth,” the statement continued.
“We express our sorrow for Shireen’s death. We view freedom of the press with great importance and we work to preserve it. The IDF will continue to act to thwart terrorism anywhere that is necessary, and will continue to meet its missions, while making an effort to avoid harming noncombatant,” it stated.
On May 20, 57 U.S. lawmakers called on the FBI and the U.S. State Department to investigate the Palestinian-American journalist’s death.