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IDF Reaction to U.S. Investigation of the Death of Shireen Abu Akleh

(July 4, 2022)

Since March 2022, 19 people have been killed in multiple terrorist attacks in Israel. In response to this deadly wave of terror, the IDF and Israeli security forces have been carrying out counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria with the aim of thwarting potential terror attacks, stopping terrorist activity and protecting Israeli civilians.

On May 11, 2022, IDF soldiers conducted counterterrorism activity in the area of Jenin. During the IDF’s operational activity, Palestinian gunmen fired heavily and indiscriminately, including directly toward IDF soldiers. In addition, explosives were hurled and hit IDF vehicles and nearly hit soldiers. Near the conclusion of the IDF’s counterterrorism activities in the area, the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was hit. 

Ever since this tragic incident, the IDF has been examining and reviewing the circumstances of Ms. Abu Akleh’s death. The Chief of the General Staff ordered a special task force composed of experts in different fields, among other things, to reconstruct and model the circumstances of the incident as accurately as possible.

The IDF investigation concluded that the source of the fire that led to the death of Ms. Abu Akleh could not be determined based on the available information.

The IDF investigation conclusively determined that no IDF soldier deliberately fired at Ms. Abu Akleh.

This past Saturday, the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) received the bullet that was alleged to have killed the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh from Palestinian authorities, in order to conduct a professional and impartial ballistic examination. The bullet remained under the custodianship of Lieutenant General ( * * * ) Michael R. Fenzel after receiving it from the Palestinian authorities until it was returned yesterday (Sunday) after the examination was conducted.

A ballistic examination was conducted in a forensic laboratory in Israel. Israeli experts examined the bullet in order to determine the connection between the bullet and the weapon from which it was fired. USSC representatives were present throughout the entire process.

Despite these efforts, the physical condition of the bullet and the quality of the characteristics on it do not enable a ballistic examination to conclusively determine whether or not the bullet was fired from the weapon which was examined.

Following these findings, the Chief of the General Staff, LTG Aviv Kohavi, ordered to continue to examine and investigate the incident while using all available means, committed to transparency and seeking out the truth. The decision of the Military Advocate General regarding whether to launch a criminal investigation will be made following the conclusion of the IDF’s operational examination. 

The IDF will continue to thwart terrorism wherever needed while taking precautions and measures to prevent harm to non-combatants. The IDF regrets harm to non-combatants, including during an exchange of fire or active combat zones, and is fully committed to protecting the sanctity of human life and the protection of the freedom of the press.

Source: Conclusion of Ballistic Examination of the Bullet Presented by the Palestinian Authorities to the USSC, IDF, (July 4, 2022).