IDF Rejects Latest ‘Biased’ Inquiry on Death of Al Jazeera Reporter

YERUSHALAYIM
Family and friends carry the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, during her funeral in Yerushalayim, May 13. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

The IDF again called on the Palestinian Authority to conduct a joint investigation into the death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and transfer the bullet from which she was shot for an Israeli examination, and rejected the most recent “biased” Al Jazeera inquiry that blamed Israel for her death.

Abu Akleh was killed during an encounter between IDF forces and terrorists in Jenin on May 11. The IDF has launched an investigation into the incident.

Al Jazeera reported on Friday that an image of the bullet from which she was killed and analyzed by ballistic and forensic experts shows that it was a green-tipped bullet that was designed to pierce armor and is used with an M4 rifle.

The round was designed and manufactured in the U.S. Both the IDF and Palestinian terrorists use M4 rifles; Al Jazeera did not mention this.

The IDF stated over the weekend that the PA conducts joint investigations with Israel “from time to time.”

However, “the Palestinian refusal to share the bullet and conduct a joint investigation indicates their considerations,” the IDF noted, showing that the PA was refraining from seeking the truth about the incident.

“Since the incident, the IDF has been investigating the circumstances of the reporter’s death. This week, the Chief of Staff [Aviv Kochavi] ordered an extension of the investigation into the shooting incident. In the meantime, he decided to expand the investigation team, in order to deepen the documentation of the events. To this end, a senior officer with unique technological expertise from the Intelligence Division was added to the operational investigation team,” the military stressed.

An initial IDF investigation states that the journalist was in no way shot intentionally and it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by the terrorists who fired uncontrollably in her vicinity at the IDF forces or by an IDF soldier by accident.

“The IDF regrets harming the uninvolved even during an exchange of fire or a battle scene and takes great care to ensure freedom of movement and the press,” it concluded.

A government official said that Israel has called for a joint pathological investigation, “but the Palestinians are refusing, perhaps in order to hide the truth.”

Meanwhile, after Israel Police presented Public Security Minister Omer Barlev with a report on the use of force to quash rioting at the funeral of Abu Akleh, Yisrael Hayom reported that the unrest included calls to kill Jews. Yisrael Hayom also learned that the government instructed the Police commissioner not to make the report public, for fear it would spark escalation.

The violence at the funeral drew international condemnations and added to the sense of grief and outrage across the Arab world.

According to the report, one of the main reasons the police resorted to the use of force was that the reporter’s family did not abide by agreements they had made with the police. The report said that the original plan was for the procession to depart from the hospital and include approximately 20 vehicles, but rioters penetrated the hospital grounds and attempted to walk Abu Akleh’s coffin out.

“Rocks were thrown at police forces and shahids were praised in song, even though [Abu Akleh] was Christian,” the report said.

“Even before it began, the funeral turned into a large-scale campaign of incitement and calls to attack Jews, which demanded that the police use force,” officials in the Public Security Ministry, which oversees the police, said.

While the report cited some misuse of force by the police, the team praised the officers.

In a statement, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai confirmed that he had ordered the probe to “learn lessons and improve the operational procedures” of the police. He appeared to acknowledge police shortcomings, but also cast blame on the mourners.

“One cannot remain indifferent to the difficult images and it is our obligation to probe these matters so that sensitive events like these will not descend into violence by rioters and will retain the required respect,” he said.

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