U.N. rights body says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank

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TEL AVIV — A veteran Palestinian American journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank, according to an independent investigation published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday. She was not shot “from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities,” the office added.

A correspondent with decades of experience for Al Jazeera news network covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot in the head early in the morning on May 11, while reporting on an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

IDF spokesperson Ran Kochav first acknowledged the incident in a 7:45 a.m., saying: “The possibility that journalists were injured, possibly by Palestinian gunfire, is being investigated.”

Later that morning, he told Army Radio that it was “likely” that a Palestinian gunman was responsible. By the end of the day, though, Israeli defense forces walked back those statements and said an Israeli soldier could have also been responsible for firing the fatal shot.

A week after the killing, however, the army said that it had not found evidence of criminal conduct in the killing which would be required for a military police probe.

“More than six weeks after the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and injury of her colleague Ali Samoudi in Jenin on 11 May 2022, it is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation,” said the statement from the U.N. Human Rights Office.

The conclusion correlates with the findings of an investigation published earlier this month by The Washington Post, which examined visual, audio and witness testimonies. It found no evidence of activity of armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the place where Abu Akleh, and a group of other journalists, were standing before the killing.

According to The Post’s analysis of available footage, though, an IDF convoy was present roughly 182 meters to 243 meters (597 feet to 797 feet) away from the group of journalists that included Abu Akleh.

“Perpetrators must be held to account,” said the U.N. statement.

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