US finds Israeli soldier likely unintentionally killed reporter, bullet too damaged to know for sure

Israel's defense minister said that she was killed while hundreds of bullets were being fired at IDF troops

Updated: July 4, 2022 - 4:58pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

United States investigators determined that an Israeli soldier was likely responsible for the unintential death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but the bullet that killed her was too damaged to come to a final conclusion.

The investigation comes after Palestinian officials handed over the bullet to the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) on Saturday, nearly two months after Akleh's death.

Israel has called on the Palestinian Authority for weeks to give the bullet to a third-party investigator. 

Palestinian officials claimed in May that Israeli Defense Forces deliberately killed Akleh during a raid on May 11 in the terror hotspot of Jenin, a town in the West Bank.

"Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press release.

The USSC studied both the Palestinian and Israeli investigations over the past several weeks and "concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh," Price wrote. 

"[T]he USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel," he stated.

The results of the investigation come with President Joe Biden scheduled to visit the region in just over a week. 

Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz posted a video in response to the US investigation, adding, "It is important to emphasize that during this operational event, like in many others, hundreds of bullets were fired at IDF troops, which responded with firepower of their own, only in the direction of the sources of the shooting."

In the weeks preceding the IDF raid, more than a dozen Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks.

"During the IDF’s operational activity, Palestinian gunmen fired heavily and indiscriminately, including directly toward IDF soldiers. In addition, explosives were hurled and hit IDF vehicles and nearly hit soldiers. Near the conclusion of the IDF’s counterterrorism activities in the area, the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was hit," the IDF said in a press release on Monday.

Far-left Muslim Knesset Member Ayman Odeh criticized the findings of the US investigation.

"Even the U.S. Department of Defense joins a long line of investigations and states that Sheerin was shot by soldiers. Distortion of the findings in the Israeli media is a rendering of the rendering and an attempt to prevent the shooter's prosecution," he claimed on Twitter, as translated.

However, right-wing Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir responded to Odeah by calling him a "terrorist" who is "a danger to national security."