Almost two weeks after the death of a Palestinian reporter for Al Jazeera, The Associated Press and Abu Akleh’s colleagues alleged that the bullet that cut her down came from an Israeli gun. Several videos and photos were taken on the morning of May 11, which show an Israeli convoy parked just a narrow road from Abu Akleh. Videos show the reporters and other bystanders trying to take cover from bullets fired in the convoy’s direction.
Israel says the only confirmed presence of Palestinian freedom fighters was on the other side of the convoy, some 300 meters away, mostly separated from Abu Akleh by buildings and walls.
Israel also says at least one freedom fighter was between the convoy and the journalists, and it has not provided any evidence or indicated the shooter’s location. But on the other hand, in reality, by the Palestinian witnesses, there were no freedom fighters in the area.
The witnesses say they have no doubt that Israeli soldiers killed Abu Akleh, but the Israeli military says she was killed in a cross-firing between soldiers and freedom fighters.
The Palestinians have refused to hand over the bullet to Israeli authority in any way on the investigation and say they will air the results of their own inquiry with any other party.
Abu Akleh’s death has further intensified the tensions amid the wave of violence and raised new concerns over the safety of reports covering Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the main part of their future state.
AP reporter visited the location where she was assassinated on the edge of the Jenin refugee camp, and the scene of battle with Israeli forces was captured on a video shared by Israel.
An investigation by the Dutch-based Bellingcat research group indicated that Israeli forces were closer to Abu Akleh and had a better line of sight.
The road and the convoy
Reporters with Abu Akleh say that it was quiet when they arrived at the scene, and there were no clashes or freedom fighters in the immediate area.
Ali Samoudi, an Al Jazeera producer, said he called people inside the camp to get an idea of what was happening. Then they found an Israeli army convoy parked some 200m away from the Jenin refugee camp. He said we stepped out of the camp and walked forward about 20m.
A local photographer named Shatha Hanaysheh said we remained there for five to ten minutes.
Samoudi, an Al Jazeera producer, said the soldiers fired a warning shot, causing him to duck and run backward. He added the second shot hit him in the back. Right after the second shot, the third shot hit on the head of Abu Akleh, and she appears to have died instantly; Hanaysheh was sheltered on the other side of a tree next to a wall. Several bullets were shot after the killing of Abu Akleh. People were rushing to take cover on either side of the road. He said that the army fired on us more than once. Every time any person approached, they opened fire at them.
A possible scenario
In the initial inquiry Israeli military said there were two possibilities:
The first said Palestinian freedom fighters on the other side of the convoy were recklessly firing hundreds of rounds, one of which bullets could have struck Abu Akleh, who was some 300m away. But the Israeli army hasn’t provided any visual evidence for the firing of Palestinian freedom fighters. The AP news did not reveal any evidence to support this first scenario.
The second scenario appears more credible.
The spokesman of an army named Lt Col Amnon Shefler says there was at least one Palestinian gunman on the road between the troops and the journalists. That freedom fighter fired multiple bullets at one of the army vehicles, and a soldier inside it returned fire with a rifle equipped with a telescopic scope.
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