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Israeli army says soldier likely killed Palestinian American reporter

The military’s top legal officer won't launch a criminal probe into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, meaning neither the soldier nor anyone in his chain of command will face punishment.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Monday a soldier likely killed veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in errant fire, according to its investigation into the incident.

A senior military official said the military’s top legal officer will not be launching a criminal probe into the death of the Al Jazeera journalist, meaning neither the soldier nor anyone in his chain of command will face punishment.

Abu Akleh was killed in May while covering Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians blamed Israel for the killing. Israel initially said she may have been killed by militant fire, but later said a soldier may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire.

Image: Joe Bidenm,Isaac Herzog
A photo of Shireen Abu Akleh is placed on a chair as journalists wait for remarks by President Joe Biden and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem during Biden's recent visit. Majdi Mohammed / AP

In a briefing to reporters, the official said the military could not conclusively determine where the fire emanated from, saying there may have been Palestinian gunmen in the same area as the Israeli soldier. But he said the soldier killed the journalist “with very high likelihood” and did so by mistake.

The official did not explain why witness accounts and videos showed limited militant activity in the area, as well as no gunfire in the vicinity until the barrage that struck Abu Akleh and wounded another reporter.

The results of the probe, announced nearly four months after the killing, largely align with those of several independent investigations completed much earlier.