AFP / June 24, 2022
Review finds Al-Jazeera journalist was not hit by firing from Palestinians, as was initially claimed by Israel
The UN has said its investigations have found that the shot that killed Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh on 11 May was fired by Israeli forces.
The Palestinian-American journalist, who was wearing a vest and helmet marked “press”, was killed while covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin, in the northern West Bank.
“We find that the shots that killed Abu Aqleh came from Israeli security forces,” the UN human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva. “It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.”
She said: “We at the UN human rights office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident. The shots that killed Abu Aqleh and injured her colleague Ali Samodi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”
She added that the information came from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney general. “We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists,” Shamdasani said.
In line with its human rights monitoring methodology, the UN human rights office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.
The findings showed that seven journalists arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin refugee camp soon after 6am. At about 6.30am, as four of the journalists turned into a particular street, “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli security forces. One single bullet injured Ali Samodi in the shoulder; another single bullet hit Abu Aqleh in the head and killed her instantly.”
The UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has urged Israel to open a criminal investigation into Abu Aqleh’s killing and into all other killings by Israeli forces in the West Bank and in the context of law enforcement operations in Gaza.
In a statement responding to Shamdasani’s briefing, the Israel Defence Forces insisted there had been an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen.
“Ever since the incident, the IDF has been investigating and reviewing the circumstances of Ms Abu Aqleh’s death,” the statement said. “The IDF investigation clearly concludes that Ms Abu Aqleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately in her area or inadvertently by an IDF soldier.”