December 9, 2023

An Israeli official said on Tuesday that a bullet that the Palestinian Authority handed over to US officials for forensic examinations may not have been the actual bullet that killed veteran Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

MK Ram Ben Barak (Yesh Atid), who heads the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said the fact that the ballistic analysis was deemed “inconclusive” by Israeli and US forensic experts could mean the bullet delivered by the Palestinian Authority was a “mistake.”

“If the results [tests] “It is not possible to determine which weapon the bullet was fired from and who it hit, it may indicate that it is simply the wrong bullet,” Ben Barak, who did not read the forensic report, told Army Radio.

“It is basically impossible to know if the bullet that was flown in was in fact the one that hit the journalist,” he added.

The bullet found at the autopsy was a 5.56mm assault rifle used by both the Israeli army and Palestinian terrorists.

The State Department issued a statement that while tests conducted on Monday were “inconclusive”, it is “likely” that an Israeli soldier fired the fatal shot by mistake.

“After a highly detailed forensic analysis, independent third-party examiners, as part of an operation overseen by the US Security Coordinator (USSC), were unable to reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” the State Department said in a statement.

A Palestinian woman stands on May 19, 2022 in front of a mural, as part of an exhibition honoring the slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akle (Portraits), at the spot where she was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin at the West Bank. (Ronaldo Schmidt/AFP via Getty)

“The ballistics determined that the bullet was severely damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion.”

The Palestinian Authority finally agreed on Saturday to take the bullet to US officials for forensic examination, two months after Abu Akleh’s death. The Palestinian Authority also rejected Israel’s offer of a joint investigation, citing “trust” issues.

Israel has insisted for weeks that it identified the IDF rifle that may have fired the bullet, but it could not confirm it definitively without the bullet.

Abu Okla, also a US citizen, was killed during a shootout in the West Bank city of Jenin in May. Israeli forces entered a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin to arrest suspected Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in a raid that came amid a series of attacks that killed 19 Israelis.

Israeli experts conducted the analysis in a forensic laboratory in Israel, in the presence of representatives of the Security Council.

The Israeli military also said in a statement on Monday that the poor condition of the bullet did not allow for a “conclusive identification of the source of the fire” that killed Abu Akle.

In the photo of the alleged bullet fired by Al Jazeera, it looks badly distorted. According to an outlet in Qatar, the bullet ricocheted inside Abu Akle’s helmet.

“In addition to forensic and ballistic analysis, the US Security Council has been granted full access to both the IDF and Palestinian Authority investigations over the past several weeks,” the US State Department said.

“By summarizing both investigations, the US Security Council concluded that shooting from IDF positions was most likely responsible for the killing of Shirin Abu Akleh. The US Security Council found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during a military operation led by The Israel Defense Forces against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad factions.

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