Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz dismissed a claim on Thursday by the Palestinian Authority that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead on May 11 in the course of a firefight between Palestinian gunmen and the Israel Defense Forces in Jenin, was deliberately targeted by Israeli forces.

“The State of Israel offers its condolences following the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. The IDF is conducting an ongoing investigation into the matter in order to reveal the truth. Any claim that the IDF intentionally harms journalists or uninvolved civilians is a blatant lie,” he said.

He spoke after the P.A.’s attorney general released a report into the journalist’s death, alleging that IDF soldiers deliberately targeted her as she tried to flee. The attorney general also claimed that the IDF used an armor-piercing round also used by NATO, according to a report by Mako.

“The IDF is operating against murderous terrorism, which in recent weeks has claimed the lives of 20 people,” said Gantz. “Many of the terrorists who conducted the attacks came from the Jenin area, which is where the incident took place. We always act with precision, targeting terrorists and taking measures to avoid harm to civilians. We will continue operating in this manner.”

He added that “investigations and briefings are not carried out at press conferences, but rather in closed rooms. Despite multiple requests from Israel, the Palestinians refuse to cooperate, which raises the question of whether they really want to uncover the truth.”

Gantz also noted that “unilateral investigations and attempts to charge IDF soldiers with war crimes while promoting false assessments, such as the one published by CNN, undermine the ability to achieve peace and stability in the region while ultimately boosting terrorism.”

On Wednesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos and also addressed the issue.

“This is, of course, a very sad event. It pains me. It pains many Israelis. The event came in the context of fighting terror in Jenin, following the murder of so many Israelis,” he said.

“But what we have done—since we are a transparent nation that knows how to run professional investigations, and the rule of law is supreme in our land—[is] offered the Palestinians a joint investigation as to the circumstances of this very tragic event. Unfortunately, the Palestinians refused. They took the body; they took the bullet. Therefore, one cannot substantiate any one of the scenarios without those facts.

“Israel was open and transparent, and offered the United States to join this process of investigation as well because we attach high importance to freedom of speech, and the work of journalists and media channels, and we respect them,” he stated.


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