The American experts, to whom the Palestinian Authority had entrusted the bullet which killed the star correspondent of Al-Jazeera while she was covering an Israeli military operation on May 13 in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, were however unable to reach no definitive conclusion as to the origin of the projectile, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
These conclusions immediately gave rise to contrasting reactions on the Israeli and Palestinian sides: the Jewish state insisted on the fact that it had itself carried out an examination of the famous bullet, in the presence of American security officials, even though the The Palestinian Authority had always refused to entrust him with the ball, while Ramallah denounced an attempt to “hide the truth”.
“We do not accept attempts to hide the truth and we are not afraid to accuse Israel (…) which bears responsibility for the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh”, thus commented on Twitter the Palestinian minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh.
– Israeli shooting, according to the UN –
The death of Ms. Abu Akleh, a highly regarded and recognized Al Jazeera journalist, has rocked the Middle East.
Equipped with a bulletproof vest clearly marked with the words “press” and a helmet, she had been shot in the head and another journalist had been shot and injured when they surrendered on the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of the Palestinian armed factions where Israeli forces were carrying out a raid that day.
Both the Palestinian Authority and Al-Jazeera, as well as the channel’s funding country, Qatar, immediately accused the Israeli army of killing her.
Israel has consistently denied these accusations, saying it is impossible to know the exact origin of the shooting, Israeli or Palestinian, and continues to rule out deliberate shooting in any event.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded on June 24 that the Israeli army was responsible while excluding, like the United States, a deliberate shooting, an investigation nevertheless dismissed as “baseless” by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
– “Appalled” family –
For its part, the journalist’s family said they were “appalled” by the lack of conclusion as to the origin of the shooting, in a press release shared on Twitter.
The Palestinian authorities had always refused to hand over the fatal projectile to the Israeli army and had finally entrusted it to the Americans in the hope of an independent expertise.
But the Israeli army said on Monday it had conducted a “ballistic examination” of the projectile — 5.56mm caliber and fired by a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, according to the Palestinian prosecutor — in the presence of “American security officials”.
In its statement, the US State Department simply states that the “extremely detailed scientific analysis” was carried out by “independent and third-party experts, in a process supervised” by the United States. .
A Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity on Sunday that the possibility of Israel examining the bullet entrusted to the United States raised questions about whether the Americans could be “trusted”. .
For the rest of their analysis, the US authorities say they have had “full access” to the investigations of the Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority in recent weeks.
“The United States (…) continues to encourage cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in this important matter” and “urge that accounts be rendered” in the matter, added Ned Price.
These latest developments come less than ten days before a visit by US President Joe Biden to Israel and the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, as part of his first tour of the Middle East since his accession to the White House.