The U.S. Security Coordinator has submitted a new report on the killing of an Al Jazeera journalist in Jenin in May 2022, which is said to confirm the USSC’s previous finding that her death was unintentional.
Shireen Abu Akleh was killed during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin.
“My understanding is that the U.S. Security Coordinator has not changed the same conclusion that was released last summer… when we put out a statement about this, which is that [Israel Defense Forces] gunfire was likely the reason [for her death]—unintentionally. But, again, I don’t have any additional updates or assessments to offer on this report,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel in a briefing on Wednesday.
“Our findings, that are consistent with the U.S. Security Coordinator’s, is that this was unintentional and due to incredibly tragic circumstances,” he added.
An IDF investigation into the incident found that, “it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit Ms. Abu Akleh. However, there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-[threatening], widespread and indiscriminate [fire was directed] toward IDF soldiers.”
The IDF emphasized that at no point was Israeli fire directed at anyone other than the terrorists shooting at Israeli forces, some of whom fired “from the area in which Ms. Shireen Abu Akleh was present.”
Forensic analysis of the bullet the Palestinian Authority claims killed Abu Akleh yielded inconclusive results. The testing was conducted in a forensic laboratory in Israel under the supervision of the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority Lt. Gen. Michael Fenzel.
“The physical condition of the bullet does not allow for a conclusive determination regarding the source of fire that led to the death of the journalist,” the IDF said in a statement at the time.
The U.S. State Department in its own statement concurred that the bullet was too badly damaged to yield conclusive results.
“After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator, could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” said the statement.
“The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional,” the statement continued, “but rather [that it was] 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.”
Nevertheless, news surfaced in November that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had launched an investigation into the incident.
Then-Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz made clear that Jerusalem would not cooperate with the FBI’s probe or any external investigation.
“The U.S. Justice Ministry’s decision to investigate the unfortunate death of Shireen Abu Akleh is a serious mistake,” Gantz said at the time.