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Palestine to turn to ICC over killing of Al Jazeera journalist

Slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Published May 13, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - As Palestinians came out in their numbers to pay tribute to veteran slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, President Mahmoud Abbas promised to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate her killing.

The 51-year-old Palestinian-American was shot in the head on Wednesday while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

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Reporters who were with her said they were targeted by Israeli snipers when the group was alone in the streets of Jenin and clearly identifiable as press.

Al Jazeera has also blamed the Israeli forces for her murder.

"We will immediately ask the International Criminal Court to bring the perpetrators to justice," Abbas said.

Abbas rejected Israel’s request to conduct a joint investigation into Abu Akleh’s murder because he believed Israelis to be the culprits.

Israel, in turn, suggested that she was shot at by Palestinian gunmen but Al Jazeera reporters said there had been no exchange of fire when she was killed.

Abbas said Israeli authorities were "fully responsible" for the killing.

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed that the Palestinian Authority had rejected a joint investigation.

"I reiterate my expectation for open, transparent and full cooperation regarding the findings," he said in a statement.

But the Israeli military said that it was investigating the possibility that the fatal shot may have been fired by one of its soldiers, according to an Israel Defense Forces official.

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The official said the military was investigating three separate shooting incidents involving its soldiers.

The acknowledgement that one of Israel’s soldiers might have been culpable marked a significant backtrack from Israel’s initial explanation for the shooting - that Abu Akleh was “most likely” hit by fire from Palestinian militants.

The IDF official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share details of an ongoing investigation, said the military was looking into an exchange of gunfire between Israeli soldiers in a vehicle and one or more armed Palestinian men who he said were shooting at the vehicle.

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The official said that the shooting occurred on a street roughly 150 metres from the spot where Abu Akleh was killed.

Of the three incidents being investigated, it was “the more probable to be involved in the death of Shireen,” the official said.”

Abu Akleh was wearing a blue vest clearly marked "Press" while reporting in Jenin, Al Jazeera said.

Another Palestinian journalist at the scene, Ali Samoodi, was wounded.

The body of Abu Akleh was driven in a motorcade from a hospital in the Palestinian hub city of Ramallah towards Abbas's compound. Mourners lined both sides of the road, some throwing flowers.

The death drew international and Arab condemnation, including from the White House, which demanded a "comprehensive investigation". Among those demanding answers was the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, which said: “The Israeli attempts to silence the voices of those who continue to expose the Israeli violations would not succeed, but rather reveal the continued brutality of occupation forces”

Additional reporting by Xinhua News Agency, Reuters and Washington Post

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