A Month Passed, Investigation into the Murder of Abu Akleh Reminds Difficult

Jerusalem, MINA – A month has passed since Israeli forces killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering the West Bank, May 11, 2022, but an investigation into accountability remains difficult.

On 26 May 2022, Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network announced it had assigned a legal team to refer Abu Akleh’s case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.

In a statement Saturday, Al Jazeera said it would “follow every avenue to achieve justice for Shireen and ensure those involved in Abu Akleh’s murder are brought to justice and held accountable.”

Al Jazeera’s legal coalition is currently preparing case files for submission to ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has also formally asked the ICC to investigate Abu Akleh’s death.

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Apart from the ICC, calls are ongoing for an immediate independent investigation, especially as the ICC investigation will take time to conclude.

However, officials in the United States reject external interference on the pretext that Israel has the means and capabilities to conduct its own investigations.

The US President Joe Biden also recently insisted that Israel should lead the investigation.

On June 8, 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, appearing at an event in Los Angeles, diverged slightly and said he supported an independent investigation into the murder.

When asked by a reporter why there was “absolutely no repercussions” for Israel over the killing of Abu Akleh, Blinken said, “We are seeking an independent and credible investigation. When that investigation takes place, we will follow the facts, wherever they lead. It’s as simple as that.”

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The testimonies and investigations of several witnesses by the media and rights groups concluded that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces.

Witnesses, colleagues and other journalists present at the scene said Israeli bullets killed him and there was no other source of ignition at the scene, contradicting initial claims made by Israeli officials that he could have been killed with Palestinian weapons.

Israel has changed its story about the incident several times, from denying the accusations, blaming the killings on stray fire from Palestinian fighters, to admitting an Israeli soldier could have mistakenly shot Abu Akleh.

Israeli military prosecutors initially asked the army to carry out an in-depth investigation, before Israeli media reported the military had no plans to launch a criminal investigation.

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PA concluded its investigation on May 26, 2022, saying Israeli forces deliberately shot the veteran reporter.

Officials said an autopsy and forensic examination carried out in Nablus after Abu Akleh’s death showed he was shot in the back after trying to escape Israeli forces’ continuous fire at the group of journalists.

Palestinians refuse to hand over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh to Israel, arguing it cannot be trusted.

During the attack, another Al Jazeera journalist, Ali al-Samoudi was also injured after being shot in the back. But he has recovered. (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)