After saying that the journalist for the pan-Arab channel Al Jazeera had “probably” succumbed to a shooting by Palestinian fighters, Israel then claimed that it did not rule out that the bullet was fired by its soldiers in Jenin in the West Bank, territory Palestinian territory occupied by the Israeli army since 1967.
A 51-year-old Palestinian Christian who also has American nationality, the journalist wore a bullet-proof jacket marked “press” and a reporting helmet while covering the operation. Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of “deliberately” and “cold-blooded” killing of its star journalist.
The announcement of his death aroused great emotion in the Palestinian Territories, in the Arab world where his reports have been followed for more than two decades, in Europe and in the United States.
At the end of Thursday morning, an official ceremony is planned in Ramallah in the West Bank, at the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas and representatives of the press, before his funeral on Friday in a church in Jerusalem, the city where she grew up.
The day before, Palestinians laid wreaths as the vehicle carrying his remains passed through the West Bank, then a crowd gathered to carry his body, placed on a stretcher and wrapped in a Palestinian flag, to the local office. from Al Jazeera.
Shireen “was the sister of all Palestinians,” her brother Antoun Abu Akleh told AFP on Wednesday evening, her voice choked with tears.
“What happened cannot be silenced. Thank God the Palestinian people supported her and support us, she will not be forgotten (…).”
– “Not sure” –
The journalist was killed in the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of Palestinian armed factions in the northern West Bank where the perpetrators of recent attacks in Israel originated. The army had launched an operation to apprehend wanted Palestinians.
At first, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested that the journalist had “probably” succumbed to fire from Palestinian fighters.
But later, Wednesday evening, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the foreign press that the army “was not sure how she was killed”.
“It may have been a Palestinian who shot her (…) The shot may also have come from our side, we are investigating,” said Gantz, who spoke of an “unfortunate” death.
According to Palestinian pathologist Rayyan Ali, who was able to examine the body, the journalist was killed by a bullet that hit her “at high speed” in the head.
“We need forensic evidence” from the Palestinians, including the bullet that killed the reporter, in order to conduct a “full” investigation, Gantz said.
– “The ball” –
Cogat, the unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense which oversees civilian activities in the Palestinian Territories, claimed from the Palestinians “the bullet found in the body of Shireen Abu Akleh in order to allow the criminal investigation division of the military police to conduct a scientific investigation to trace the origin of the shooting,” an Israeli security source told AFP.
Israel also offered to Palestinian and American officials “to be present” during the examination of the bullet, and perhaps identify the weapon from which it came, added this source.
“Israel asked for a joint investigation and for us to hand over the bullet that caused the journalist’s assassination, but we refuse. The investigation must be completely independent,” Hussein al-Sheikh, a tenor from the media, reacted on Thursday. Palestinian Authority.
The United States called for a “transparent” investigation, preferably joint between Israelis and Palestinians, while the UN and the European Union urged an “independent” investigation.
“We strongly condemn the murder of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted.
The group of Arab countries at the UN called for “an independent international investigation” into the “assassination” of the journalist.