IDF Rejects CNN Claim Al Jazeera Journalist Shot Deliberately by Troops

Armed members of the Islamic Jihad terror group take part in the funeral of Amjad al-Fayed, who was shot dead during a raid in Jenin last week. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The IDF late on Tuesday rejected the findings of a CNN investigative report that claimed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was deliberately shot by troops in the Jenin refugee camp earlier this month.

Abu Akleh died after she was shot in the head while covering a fire fight between IDF forces and armed Palestinian terrorists.

The network presented what it said was new evidence showing the reporters, all wearing helmets and protective vests which clearly identified them as members of the press, continuing to be under fire after Shireen was hit.

A cluster of bullets found lodged in a tree nearby suggested the shooting was not random.

“We stood in front of the Israeli military vehicles for about five to 10 minutes before we made moves to ensure they saw us. And this is a habit of ours as journalists, we move as a group and we stand in front of them, so they know we are journalists, and then we start moving,” Shatha Hanaysha, a Palestinian reporter told CNN.

Another witness, Salim Awad, a resident of the camp, told CNN he had seen Israeli soldiers in the vehicles nearby, one of whom he claimed shot at the group of reporters.

“When we tried to approach her, they shot at us. I tried to cross the street to help, but I couldn’t,” he said.

The network also presented a forensic audio analysis by Robert Maher, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Montana State University, who said the gunfire he heard on a video clip presented to him by CNN would correspond to a distance of something between 177 and 197 meters, or 580 and 646 feet, almost exactly in line with the Israeli sniper’s position, adding that there was no possibility that they were random shots.

The IDF said in response that the claim of deliberate shooting of reporters was baseless and that there can be no conclusive findings as to the origin of the shot that killed Abu Akleh without examining the bullet removed from her body.

“The IDF expresses its condolences for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh and calls on the Palestinian Authority to cooperate in a forensic inquiry together with representatives of the United States to reach a definitive conclusion,” the IDF said in a statement.

“The IDF has been operating in the Jenin area to apprehend terror suspects after 11 Israeli civilians were killed in attacks perpetrated by residents of Jenin and its surrounding villages and to prevent further attacks. Palestinian gunmen indiscriminately fired hundreds of rounds at troops, turning the Jenin camp into an active war zone,” the IDF said.

“Without a serious and professional investigation, it is impossible to conclude where the fire originated and such a probe must be done meticulously and based on evidence,” the IDF statement read.

The PA has thus far rejected Israel’s request to conduct a joint investigation into the incident.

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