JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian Authority on Thursday rejected Israel’s request for a joint investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, saying it would not hand over the bullet that killed her. Ballistic analysis.
Hussein Sheikh, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians would conduct their own independent investigation and would “inform all parties of the findings in a highly transparent manner”.
Senior Al Jazeera correspondent Abu Akleh was shot and killed Wednesday while reporting on the Israeli military attack on the occupied West Bank. The broadcaster and two journalists who were with her blamed the Israeli army.
Israeli officials initially suggested that Abu Akler may have been killed by militant fire, but retracted that assertion later in the day, saying there was no “final conclusion.”
Her death caused grief throughout the West Bank. Her body will be taken to the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah on Thursday before being taken to Jerusalem for burial on Friday.
The killing sparked global condemnation. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for an “independent and transparent investigation” to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday promised such an investigation, saying he was in touch with U.S. and Palestinian officials and wanted cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s going on,” he said. “I have no final conclusion.”
Abu Akleh’s death could spark new scrutiny of Israel’s military justice system, which is being reviewed as part of a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court. It also threatened to further strain the often volatile relationship between the military and the international media.
Abu Akleh, 51, is a respected and familiar face in the Middle East, best known for her reporting on the harsh reality of Israel’s unrestricted military occupation of the Palestinians on Al Jazeera’s Arabic programme , now in its 55th year. She is widely recognized in the West Bank and is also a U.S. citizen.
Her death comes amid a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, fueled by tensions over a key holy site in Jerusalem. At least 18 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks in recent weeks, while more than 30 Palestinians have been killed, most of them involved in attacks or clashes with Israeli forces. Others appeared unarmed or passersby, sparking criticism of Israel’s excessive use of force in its crackdown on militants.