Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing – Israel “can no longer shirk responsibility”
After today’s UN Human Rights Office announcement that the shot that killed US-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May could only have been fired by Israeli security forces, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Israeli authorities to finally take responsibility and render justice for the killing of this reporter.
“The Israeli authorities can no longer shirk their responsibilities,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “They have a duty to carry out and complete a proper investigation in order to render justice for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh. Enough bad faith! Enough disdain for the truth when journalists are killed! They can no longer decently hide behind their first hasty investigation when they are clearly responsible.”
One of Al Jazeera’s leading reporters in the Palestinian Territories for more than 20 years, Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an operation by Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin on 11 May.
In the statement issued on 24 June in Geneva, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said: “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.”
"The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) investigation clearly concludes that Ms. Abu Akleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately... or inadvertently by an IDF soldier," the military said in response.
The New York Times reported on 20 June that its own investigation concluded that the shot that killed Abu Akleh “was fired from the approximate position of an Israeli military vehicle.” This followed a long list of similar findings by independent experts and reporters published by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, by Bellingcat, and by CNN and The Washington Post.
Ever since Abu Akleh’s death, RSF had been calling for an independent international investigation but, in today’s statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reiterated her earlier call for the Israeli authorities to open a criminal investigation into the reporter’s death.
The Israel Defence Forces said in the findings of their own “initial investigation,” published on 13 May, just two days after her death, that “it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh.”