Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing: "The conclusions of the American report are opaque and incomprehensible"
After supervising a forensic analysis of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and analysing information provided by the Israel Defence Forces and Palestinian Authority, the Jerusalem-based US Security Coordinator (USSC) failed to reach any clear findings about her death. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) deplores the vague conclusions and calls for more transparency.
“The 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,” the US State Department said on 4 July after the bullet provided by the Palestinian Authority was examined under USSC supervision in a forensic laboratory in Israel.
“The US State Department has issued a statement whose conclusions are incomprehensible, especially as the investigation was carried out on the quiet and its details have not been released,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The competent US authorities must release all of the investigation’s evidence. We will continue to campaign for justice for Shireen Abu Akleh.”
The US State Department said, “an extremely detailed forensic analysis” was carried out by Israeli ballistic experts in the presence of “independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the US Security Coordinator.” This statement, issued during the US national holiday, was not accompanied by the publication of any expert report.
The IDF went further, saying: “The physical condition of the bullet and the quality of the characteristics on it do not enable a ballistic examination to conclusively determine whether or not the bullet was fired from the weapon which was examined.” The IDF previously said on 19 May that they had identified the gun that fired the shot, and questioned the soldier who fired it, but could reach no firm conclusions until the Palestinians handed over the bullet.
The Abu Akleh family said the US statement offered nothing more than “cold comfort” while B’Tselem, the Israeli NGO that had contradicted IDF claims about the Palestinian origin of the shot from the very outset, called it a “whitewash.”
The UN Human Rights Office said on 24 June: “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, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”