Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by bullets fired by Israeli soldiers, says UN
Several ‘seemingly well-aimed bullets’ were fired at her even after Akleh made efforts to show that she was a member of the press, an investigation showed.
Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed due to bullets fired by the Israeli military, the United Nations said on Friday, reported the Qatar-based state-run broadcaster.
“All information we have gathered...is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians,” UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva, reported Al Jazeera.
Israel has, however, refuted the allegations.
Akleh was shot dead in the State of Palestine on May 11. While Al Jazeera had alleged that the Israeli forces deliberately shot Akleh, Tel Aviv denied the claims.
Akleh was allegedly shot in the head when she was covering an Israeli raid in Jenin. The city lies in the West Bank, which was captured by the Israeli military in 1967 during the Mideast War. The Palestinians want it back to form their future state.
On Friday, Shamdasani said that an investigation carried out by her office showed that Akleh and Sammoudi had made a concerted effort to be visible as members of the press to Israeli soldiers.
“The journalists said they chose a side street for their approach to avoid the location of armed Palestinians inside the camp and that they proceeded slowly in order to make their presence visible to the Israeli forces deployed down the street,” Shamdasani said. “Our findings indicate that no warnings were issued and no shooting was taking place at that time and at that location.”
She claimed that several “seemingly well-aimed bullets” were fired towards the journalists from the direction of the Israeli forces. The spokesperson added that bullets continued to be fired at an unarmed man who tried help Akleh after she was hit.
In response to the allegations of the UN Human Rights Office, the Israeli Defence Forces said in a statement that its investigations has shown that Akleh was not intentionally shot by its soldiers.
“It is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately in her area or inadvertently by an IDF soldier,” it said.
Akheh’s killing has drawn criticism from Palestinians, who were attacked by Israeli forces when carrying the journalist’s casket during her funeral in Jerusalem. At one point, the casket had nearly fallen on to the ground.
The Israeli police had alleged that Palestinian rioters were hurling stones.
Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, had earlier tried to claim that Palestinian gunmen could have killed Akleh. However, Israel later backtracked on its statement and said it could not rule out the possibility that an Israeli soldier had fired the shot.
Israel has also not made it clear if anyone faces criminal charges for the killing. It has also not released findings of its internal investigation.