Unanswered questions about the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

The media and Democratic senators have claimed Akleh and her colleague were shot from behind, precisely where Palestinian terrorists were situated.

Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Source: Screenshot.
Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Source: Screenshot.
Michael Berenhaus
Dr. Michael Berenhaus is a freelance activist who works to combat anti-Israel bias in the media. He has been widely published in news sources such as The Economist, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Washington Post and other news sources have recently published a series of articles about the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during a firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists in Jenin on May 11, 2022. Jenin has long been a hotbed of terrorist recruitment, and the Israeli raid was prompted by a series of terror attacks in the weeks before that left 19 Israeli citizens dead. According to the Post article, many news sources reported there was “a high likelihood” that Israel was “responsible for Shireen’s death.”

Although the P.A. immediately claimed that Israel killed Akleh deliberately, they refused to release the fatal bullet. There could be little doubt as to why: They were hiding something. If the bullet was from an Israeli gun, why not produce it? And why did none of the media reports blaming Israel call for the release of the bullet? Their reporting should have begun and ended with it. It would have been conclusive evidence of who was responsible.

The P.A. tried to claim that it was. Attorney General Akram Al-Khatib spoke about the P.A.’s investigation of the incident in a Reuters article, which stated, “Al-Khatib said tests showed that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was a 5.56 mm round fired from a Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle, which is used by the Israeli military.” However, the Reuters article noted, “That same 5.56 caliber can also be fired from M-16 rifles that are carried by many Palestinian militants. Al-Khatib did not say how he was sure it had come from an Israeli rifle.”

Reporting by Sean Durns of CAMERA debunked the P.A. investigation. According to Durns, “Matching a bullet to a weapon is quite difficult without access to the weapon and, importantly, the IDF doesn’t even use Ruger Mini-14s.”

After nearly two months, the P.A. finally released the bullet to American and Israeli experts. The results of their examination were inconclusive: The bullet was too damaged to ascertain which side fired it.

Moreover, the bullet had no “chain of custody,” so the P.A. could not prove it was the same bullet that killed Akleh. As evidence, it would be inadmissible in any American court. The fact that the P.A. waited so long to release the bullet, even though it was too damaged to be of any use, also casts doubt on its credibility.

Media reports on the incident raise further suspicions. The Washington Post article, for example, stated that Shireen “was fatally shot in the back of the head.” But a letter from 24 Democratic senators to President Joe Biden asking for a U.S. investigation of the killing stated, “According to one of [Akleh’s] colleagues, the group stood in front of the Israeli military convoy to ensure the soldiers knew they were members of the news media before moving toward the entrance of Jenin refugee camp. Minutes later, Ms. Abu Akleh was fatally shot in the head, and another journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was wounded by a shot in the back.”

If the group of journalists were in front of the Israeli convoy, how did the media investigations reconcile this with the claim that both Akleh and al-Samoudi were shot from behind? What does this tell us about the origin of the bullets? Moreover, why has the P.A. not handed over the bullet that struck al-Samoudi?

We may never know exactly what happened to Shireen Abu Akleh. What we do know is that, in all of the investigations of the killing, there has been no examination of the bullet that wounded Ali al-Samoudi. Why not? It would also be evidence of who was responsible. What we do know is that both Al-Samoudi and Akleh “stood in front of the Israeli military” and both were shot from behind, which was where the Palestinian terrorists were positioned.

Dr. Michael Berenhaus is a freelance watchdog activist who works tirelessly to combat anti-Israel bias in the media.  He has been widely published in news sources such as The Economist, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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