Independent Investigation Reveals Israel Responsible for Killing Journalist

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JERUSALEM (AP) — As Israel and Palestinians debate over the investigation into the murder of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, several independent groups have launched their own investigations. An open-source research team said its initial findings lend support to Palestinian witnesses who say they were killed by Israeli fire.

The outcome of these investigations could help shape international public opinion about who was responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, especially if an official Israeli military investigation continues. Israel and the Palestinians are locked in a war of narratives that already put Israel on the defensive.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American and 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, was killed last Wednesday during an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. He was a household name in the Arab world and is known for documenting the hardships of Palestinian life under Israeli rule, now in its sixth decade.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on Sunday that he expressed his condolences to Abu Akleh’s family and respects their work, and expressed “the need for an immediate and credible investigation” into his death.

Palestinian officials and witnesses, including journalists with him, say he was killed by soldier’s fire. After initially saying Palestinian gunmen might be responsible, the military later backed off and now says it too may have been hit by faulty Israeli fire.

Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinians, saying the bullet must be analyzed by ballistics experts to come to firm conclusions. Palestinian officials refused, saying they did not trust Israel. Human rights groups, Israel’s bad record to investigate abuses of security forces.

Palestinian journalists, ex-Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s St. He participated in the protest after he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank outside the Porphyrios Church.

Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Palestinians said late Sunday that they would conduct the investigation alone, after earlier saying they would accept an outside partner, and would yield results very soon.

“We also refused to conduct an international investigation because we were confident in our abilities as a security agency,” said Prime Minister Mohammed Istayyeh. We will not hand over any of the evidence to anyone because we know these people are capable of distorting the facts.” He stopped with Anton, Abu Akleh’s brother, and Walid Al-Omari, Al Jazeera’s local bureau chief.

As there was disagreement between the two parties over the Abu Akleh investigation, several research and human rights groups launched their own investigations.

Over the weekend, Bellingcat, an international consortium of researchers based in the Netherlands, published an analysis of the video and audio evidence gathered on social media. The material came from both Palestinian and Israeli military sources, and the analysis examined factors such as timestamps, locations of videos, shadows and forensic analysis of gunshots.

The group found that the evidence supports witness statements that Israeli fire killed Abu Akleh, while both gunmen and Israeli soldiers were in the area.

“From what we were able to review, the Israeli army (Israeli soldiers) was in the closest position and had the clearest line of sight to Abu Akleh,” said Giancarlo Fiorella, principal investigator of the analysis.

Bellingcat is among a growing number of companies. “open source” informationsuch as social media videos, security camera footage, and satellite images. rebuild events.

Fiorella acknowledged that without evidence such as bullets, weapons used by the military, and GPS positions of Israeli forces, the analysis would not be 100% accurate. But he said the emergence of additional evidence typically supports preliminary results and almost never reverses them.

“This is what we do when we don’t have access to these things,” he said.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said it was also conducting its own analysis. The group played a key role last week in the military backing out of its initial claims that Palestinian gunmen were responsible for his death.

Israel’s claim was based on a social media video where a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a Jenin alley and then other militants came running to claim they had shot a soldier. The military said the gunmen may have referred to Abu Akleh, who was wearing a protective helmet and vest, as no soldiers were injured that day.

Family, friends and colleagues of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh transport her coffin to a hospital in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem on Thursday, May 12, 2022.  Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American reporter who covered more of the Middle East conflict for more than 25 years, was shot dead during an Israeli military raid on the West Bank town of Jenin.
Family, friends and colleagues of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh transport her coffin to a hospital in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American reporter who covered more of the Middle East conflict for more than 25 years, was shot dead during an Israeli military raid on the West Bank town of Jenin.

Mahmoud Illean via Associated Press

A B’Tselem researcher went to the site and shot a video showing the Palestinian gunmen about 300 meters (yards) from where Abu Akleh was shot, separated by a series of walls and alleyways.

Dror Sadot, spokesman for the group, said B’Tselem had begun collecting testimonies from witnesses and could try to reconstruct the footage with video from the scene. At this point, however, he said he could not come to a conclusion as to who was behind the shootings.

Sadot said that any bullet should fit the barrel of the gun. The Palestinians refused to drop the bullet, and it is unclear whether the military confiscated the weapons used that day.

The bullet alone can’t tell much because it could have been fired from both sides, he said. “What can be done is to match the bullet to the barrel,” he said.

The Israeli military did not respond to requests for talks to discuss the status of its investigation.

Jonathan Conricus, a former Israeli military spokesman and military affairs expert, said rebuilding a gunfight in densely populated urban areas is “very complex” and forensic evidence such as lead is crucial to drawing any firm conclusions. He accused the Palestinian Authority of refusing to cooperate for propaganda purposes.

“Without lead, any investigation would only be able to reach partial and questionable conclusions,” Conricus said. “It can be assumed that exactly the Palestinian Authority’s strategy is: denying Israel’s ability to clear its name while leveraging global sympathy for the Palestinian cause.”

Meanwhile, Israeli police launched an investigation over the weekend into the behavior of police officers who attacked mourners at Abu Akleh’s funeral. those who carry his coffin almost drop his coffin.

Sunday’s papers were full of criticism of the police and what was portrayed as a public relations debacle.

“Friday images are the opposite of common sense and patience,” commentator Oded Shalom wrote to the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. “It documented a shocking display of unbridled brutality and violence.”

Addressing the Jerusalem issues in the daily Haaretz, Nir Hasson said that the problems go deeper than Israel’s image.

It was one of the most extreme visual expressions of the occupation and the humiliation of the Palestinian people,” he wrote.

Associated Press writers Tia Goldenberg from Tel Aviv, Israel, and Matthew Lee from Berlin contributed to this report.

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