“The Israeli military will not open a criminal probe into the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by its soldiers last week, citing a lack of evidence and “no suspicion of a criminal act”.
Haaretz reported on Thursday that the Israeli army’s Military Police Criminal Investigation Division “does not plan to investigate the fatal shooting” of Abu Akleh, who was killed by Israeli forces while she was covering a raid on the Jenin Refugee Camp.
Immediately following her killing, which sparked global outrage, Israeli military and government officials denied responsibility, pointing to Palestinian gunmen who were fighting against the Israeli invasion into the camp.
In its interim investigation following her killing, the army said that it “could not determine whether she was killed by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire.”
According to Haaretz, the army has now decided against opening a formal probe into her killing, under the pretext that “there is no suspicion of a criminal act.”
Haaretz added that political implications also influenced the decision, as questioning Israeli soldiers as potential criminal suspects “would provoke opposition and controversy within the IDF and in Israeli society in general,” at a time when Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition is in troubling waters.
In the army’s preliminary investigation, soldiers reportedly testified that they “did not see” Abu Akleh, and were aiming their fire at Palestinian gunmen who were allegedly “nearby.”
This, however, contradicts the testimony of eyewitnesses and data collected by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
According to eyewitnesses, including the group of journalists who were with Abu Akleh when she was shot, they made themselves known to a group of Israeli snipers stationed around 150 meters away from them. They also noted that there were no Palestinian gunmen in the area.
B’Tselem conducted field research following Abu Akleh’s killing, comparing a video of Palestinian gunmen published by the Israeli government with the location of where Abu Akleh was killed. The group determined that it could not have been Palestinian fire that killed Abu Akleh.
The spokesman of the Israeli army said “the circumstances in which the incident occurred will be studied in an operational investigation being conducted by the head of the commando unit.”
Israel has continued to blame the Palestinian Authority for hindering its alleged investigation efforts, due to the PA’s refusal to hand over ballistics and other evidence to the Israelis. The Palestinians maintain that Israel is incapable of carrying out a fair investigation, and for that reason do not want to hand over crucial evidence.
In a statement condemning the decision not to authorize the military police to conduct a probe into Abu Akleh’s killing, Israeli human rights group Yesh Din pointed out that 80% percent of complaints submitted to Israeli forces are dismissed without a criminal investigation.
“It appears that politics and image count for more than truth and justice. An army that investigates itself in such a serious case as this again proves that it is incapable or unwilling to undertake a fair and effective probe,” the group said.
Abu Akleh’s family, along with Palestinian and some US officials have continued to call for an open independent investigation into her killing. “
Credit: Yumna Patel. Publication: Mondoweiss. Published: May 19th 2022. Source Link: https://mondoweiss.net/2022/05/israel-wont-open-criminal-probe-into-killing-of-shireen-abu-akleh/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly-newsletter