Israeli forces “aimed to kill” Abu Aqleh 

May 27, 2022 - 20:2

The Palestinian Public Prosecution’s office has revealed the killing of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was caused by an armor-piercing projectile fired directly and deliberately at her head by an Israeli sniper.

Speaking at a press conference in the occupied territories, the Palestinian Attorney General, Akram Al-Khatib, made the announcement as Israel faces mounting global anger over its refusal to conduct a criminal investigation into its soldiers’ actions. 

Al-Khatib says that according to a Palestinian Public Prosecution report, it has been established that an Israeli sniper directly fired a bullet at Abu Aqleh’s head as she was trying to escape Israeli forces storming the occupied city of Jenin.

The Attorney General says she was shot dead despite wearing a helmet and a blue vest that was clearly marked with the word “PRESS”. He says other journalists who were accompanying Abu Aqleh were also deliberately targeted by the regime troops’ gunfire.

He announced the bullet that killed Abu Aqleh was a 5.56 mm round with a steel component used by NATO forces, reiterating that the Palestinian Authority will not hand over the bullet to the occupying regime. 

Al-Khatib also says the bullet was fired from a distance of 170 to 200 meters away by a sniper with “a clear line of sight”. He further announced that the bullet had general and specific markings that match a Mini Ruger semi-automatic sniper weapon.

The Palestinian judiciary official pointed out the remains of the gunfire still at Abu Aqleh’s murder scene support the fact that the journalist was killed with what he described as premeditation, emphasizing that the Israeli troops also fired at anyone who tried to reach Abu Aqleh to rescue the Al Jazeera journalist.

Al-Khatib says the Palestinian Public Prosecution concluded that the facts on the ground confirm the absence of any armed clashes at the time when the murder took place, pledging that the investigation carried out by the Public Prosecution will be the cornerstone in the prosecution of the Israeli killers. “The only source of firing was by the occupation forces with the aim to kill,” he said.

According to Al-Khatib, an autopsy and forensic examination conducted in the occupied city of Nablus following Abu Aqleh’s assassination showed she was shot from the back, indicating that she was trying to flee as Israeli forces continued to fire as the group of journalists.

Aside from Abu Aqleh, another Al Jazeera employee, Ali al-Samoudi, sustained injuries from an Israeli bullet also fired towards his back during the same incident. Al-Samoudi is now in a stable condition.

“Ali Samoudi was hit by a bullet in his back, and the Israeli occupation forces continued their attack on the journalists, who tried to escape and leave,” al-Khatib said. 

The findings of the probe came days after the Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced it had formally asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Abu Aqleh’s killing.

Israel has ruled out a criminal investigation into Abu Aqleh's death. The regime’s military claims that under its policy, a criminal investigation is not launched if a person is killed in the "midst of an active combat zone," unless there is credible and immediate suspicion of a criminal offense. 

Apart from the regime’s top ally, the United States, lawmakers in Washington, the United Nations and the global community have been calling on Tel Aviv to allow for an independent investigation.

So far, the regime has refused to arrange for international investigators make their way to the murder scene fueling further suspicions that Israeli troops were behind the killing. 

Meanwhile, an investigation by American news outlet CNN has shed further evidence backing the Palestinian Attorney General’s account. The probe includes videos of the scene of the shooting which show that there was no active combat, nor any armed Palestinians, near Abu Aqleh in the moments leading up to her murder. 

The news outlet says it has obtained videos, which it corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons expert, which suggest that Abu Aqleh was shot dead in a targeted attack by the Israeli military.

According to CNN, the footage shows a calm scene before the reporters came under fire in the outskirts of Jenin refugee camp, near the main roundabout. At least four other journalists and three local residents said that it had been a normal morning in Jenin, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, many on their way to work or school, and the street was relatively quiet.

About a dozen or so Palestinians had gathered to watch Abu Aqleh, a household name in the Arab world, after she and her colleagues arrived in Jenin to report on an uptick of Israeli army raids on the Palestinians living there. Some of the Palestinian filmed the scene on their phones.

In one 16-minute phone video shared with the American news network, a Palestinian man who is filming is reported said to be walking towards the spot where the journalists had gathered, zooming in on the Israeli armored vehicles (who had been preparing to raid the area) parked in the distance, and says "look at the snipers."

This year, Israeli regime raids on the Jenin refugee camp, in particular, have become a regular occurrence. This follows a series of lone-wolf retaliatory attacks by Palestinians against Israeli settlers, after the regime repeatedly stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque and its compounds, in addition to others regions of the occupied territories killing dozens of Palestinians and injuring hundreds of others. 

One witness, Salim Awad, who filmed a 16-minute video, told CNN that there were no armed Palestinians or any clashes in the area, and he hadn't expected there to be gunfire, given the presence of journalists nearby.

"There was no conflict or confrontations at all. We were about 10 guys, give or take, walking around, laughing and joking with the journalists," he said. "We were not afraid of anything. We didn't expect anything would happen, because when we saw journalists around, we thought it'd be a safe area."

Abu Aqleh can be seen turning away from the barrage. The footage shows a direct line of sight towards the Israeli convoy.

"We saw around four or five military vehicles on that street with rifles sticking out of them and one of them shot Shireen. We were standing right there, we saw it. When we tried to approach her, they shot at us. I tried to cross the street to help, but I couldn't," Awad said, adding that he saw that a bullet struck Abu Aqleh in the gap between her helmet and protective vest, just by her ear.

CNN says it reviewed eleven videos showing the scene and the Israeli military convoy “from different angles, before, during and after Abu Aqleh was killed”.  Security consultant Cobb-Smith told the network Abu Akleh was killed in discrete shots, not a burst of automatic gunfire. 

Reviewing the videos, he says "the number of strike marks on the tree where Shireen was standing proves this wasn't a random shot, she was targeted.”

The Al Jazeera Media Network says it has assigned a legal team to refer the killing of its journalist to the International Criminal Court. 

In a statement, the it said “The Network vows to follow every path to achieve justice for Shireen, and ensure those responsible for her killing are brought to justice and held accountable in all international justice and legal platforms and courts.”

Leave a Comment

6 + 4 =