Tensions heighten between Israel and Palestine over reporter's death

The Palestinian Authority accused Israeli forces of purposefully killing the reporter

Updated: May 26, 2022 - 8:07pm

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The Palestinian Authority on Thursday released a report accusing Israeli forces of deliberately killing Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh earlier this month, but Israeli officials denied the claim and called for an independent investigation.

Palestinian Attorney General Akram al-Khatib held a press conference Thursday in Ramallah to announce the results of the PA's investigation.

"It was clear that one of the [Israeli] occupation forces … had fired a bullet that hit journalist Shireen Abu Akleh directly in her head" while she was leaving the area, he said, according to Al Jazeera.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said his country offers condolences following Akleh's death and that Israeli Defense Forces are investigating it. He also criticized the Palestinian Authority and CNN for their handling of the incident.

"Any claim that the IDF intentionally harms journalists or uninvolved civilians, is a blatant lie," Gantz stressed, adding, "We always act with precision, targeting terrorists and taking measures to avoid harm to civilians. We will continue operating in this manner."

Akleh was shot on May 11 while covering an Israeli military raid as the IDF and Palestinian militants exchanged fire in the West Bank of Jenin, a known terror hotspot that is the site of frequent IDF raids due to the increase in attacks on Israel.

Al Jazeera and U.S. Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib jumped to blame Israel hours after her death.

Gantz criticized al-Khatib for how he announced the PA's findings on the reporter's death. 

"Investigations and briefings are not carried out at press conferences, but rather in closed rooms, and while transmitting information," Gantz said.

"Despite multiple requests from Israel, the Palestinians refuse to cooperate, which raises the question of whether they really want to uncover the truth," he noted. "Even today, I call on the Palestinian Authority to hand over the bullet and all their findings. To this day, we are prepared and willing to conduct an investigation in collaboration with international actors."

The Palestinian Authority has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Akleh's death, but the PA has refused to give Israel the bullet that killed her.

"Unilateral investigations and attempts to charge IDF soldiers with war crimes while promoting false assessments such as the one published by CNN, undermine the ability to achieve peace and stability in the region, while ultimately boosting terrorism," Gantz said. 

CNN published an article on Tuesday, before the PA's findings were released, accusing Israel of killing Akleh in a targeted attack. 

"He who believes in himself, is unafraid," Gantz said. "Anyone who conducts counterterrorism operations while avoiding harm to civilians, would want to know the truth and would consider what can be done to save human lives."

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