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Israeli forces fired shots that killed Palestinian American journalist, U.N. panel finds

Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank last month.
The veteran Palestinian American journalist had spent a quarter century covering life under Israeli military rule.AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Findings show that Israeli security forces fired the bullets that killed Palestinian-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in May, and not indiscriminate firing from Palestinians, a spokesperson for the United Nations human rights office said on Friday.

“It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation,” Ravina Shamdasani told a briefing in Geneva.

Israeli and Palestinians officials have exchanged recriminations over the incident, which has heightened tensions. Israel has denied that any Israeli soldier “targeted a journalist.” 

A group of 24 U.S. senators on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to ensure direct U.S. involvement in the investigation into the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist, who was covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank last month.

The lawmakers, all of them Democrats plus two independents, called for “a thorough and transparent investigation under U.S. auspices” into Abu Akleh's death in Jenin on May 11.

“It is clear that neither of the parties on the ground trust the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Senator Chris Van Hollen, in a letter to Biden, who is due to visit Israel in July.

“We believe the only way to achieve that goal is for the United States to be directly involved,” they wrote.

The funeral descended into chaos Friday after Israeli security forces stormed and beat the crowd carrying her coffinHazem Bader / AFP - Getty Images

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the U.S. is not conducting an official investigation” but urged both sides to share evidence with each other. “We expect full accountability for those responsible,” the spokesperson added.

The Israeli embassy said Israel conducted a thorough inquiry and “continues to call for an investigation with the United States in an observer role.”

The Palestinian Authority said in late May its investigation showed Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier in a “deliberate murder."

Israel denied the accusation.

The Israeli military concluded “unless the bullet is handed over, it is impossible to determine which side fired the fatal shot,” but the Palestinian Authority has refused to do so, the Israeli embassy said.

The Israeli army had said shortly after the incident that Abu Akleh might have been accidentally shot by one of its soldiers or a Palestinian militant in an exchange of gunfire.