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Investigation of the Death of Shireen Abu Akleh

(July 4, 2022)

On May 11, 2022, Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American correspondent for Al Jazeera was killed. Her death occurred during an Israeli operation against Palestinian terrorists in Jenin following a spate of attacks that resulted in the death of 11 people. After resisting American requests for the bullet that killed Abu Akleh to determine the gun that fired it, the Palestinian Authority finally turned it over to American officials who ran ballistic tests. Critics raised questions about the chain of custody and the possibility the bullet was not the one that killed Abu Akleh. Nevertheless, the State Department issued the following statement.

After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion.

In addition to the forensic and ballistic analysis, the USSC was granted full access to both Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority (PA) investigations over the last several weeks. By summarizing both investigations, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.  The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel.

The United States appreciates and continues to encourage cooperation between Israel and the PA in this important case. We will remain engaged with Israel and the PA on next steps and urge accountability. We again offer our deepest condolences to the Abu Akleh family.

Source: Ned Price, “On the Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,” U.S. Department of State, (July 4, 2022).