RAMALLA, West Bank (AP) — Thousands of people gathered to mourn a murdered Al Jazeera journalist. in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday, as the head of the Palestinian Authority blamed Israel for his death and rejected Israeli calls for a joint investigation.
Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American reporter who covered the Middle East conflict for more than 25 years, was shot dead on Wednesday. during an Israeli military raid on the West Bank city of Jenin. Journalists who were with her, including one who was shot, said Israeli forces shot at them even though they were clearly identifiable as journalists.
Israel says it is investigating the incident. He initially suggested that he was shot by Palestinian militants, without providing evidence, but has since recanted. Israel is calling for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with it on security.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas angrily rejected that proposal, saying “we hold the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for killing her.”
“You cannot hide the truth with this crime,” Abbas said in a speech as his body lay covered with a Palestinian flag in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is based.
“They are the ones who committed the crime, and since we do not trust them, we will immediately go to the International Criminal Court,” Abbas said.
The ICC opened an investigation in possible Israeli war crimes more than a year ago. Israel has rejected that investigation as being biased against it.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior adviser to Abbas, said the Palestinians would conduct their own independent investigation and communicate the results “with great transparency.” He refused an Israeli request to conduct his own ballistics analysis of the bullet.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused the Palestinians of denying Israel “access to the basic findings necessary to arrive at the truth.” He called on the Palestinian Authority not to take “any action to disrupt the investigation or contaminate the investigation process.”
Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israeli military incursion into Jenin, which has become a militant stronghold. in recent weeks, as Palestinians carried out a series of deadly attacks and Israel launched military incursions into the occupied West Bank.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately killing her and vowed to take legal action. Reporters who were with her said there were no Palestinian militants in the area.
Israeli officials initially suggested that Abu Akleh was hit by militant fire and released a video showing gunmen shooting at Israeli forces in a narrow alley inside the Jenin refugee camp. They later backtracked after an Israeli human rights group released its own video showing the shooting site was several hundred meters away from where Abu Akleh was killed.
His death was greeted with an outpouring of grief throughout the Arab world. The 51-year-old was known as a veteran on-air correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language channel. His reporting shed light on the harsh realities of Israeli military rule, which is in its sixth decade with no end in sight. She was also a US citizen.
His body was to be taken to Jerusalem, where he was born, for burial on Friday.
The murder provoked international condemnation and widespread calls for accountability. UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres 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 contact with US and Palestinian officials and looked forward to cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We are trying to find out exactly what happened,” he said. “I have no final conclusions.”
Asked about the investigation and Israel’s offer for the Palestinians to participate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that US officials “stand ready to assist any party in any way.” that we can”.
“Neither party has requested our help at this time and such a request would be necessary for us to do so,” he said.
Abu Akleh’s death could draw new scrutiny from Israel’s military justice system, which is being scrutinized as part of the ICC investigation. He also threatened to further strain the often difficult relations between the military and the international media.
Rights groups say Israel rarely goes ahead with investigations of deadly encounters with Palestinians, and that when it does, it often imposes lenient punishments.
His death comes amid a wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians that has been fueled by tensions at a key Jerusalem holy site.
At least 18 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks in recent weeks, as well as more than 30 Palestinians, most of them involved in attacks or clashes with Israeli forces. Among the Palestinians killed was an unarmed woman and at least two apparent bystanders, fueling criticism that Israel often uses excessive force..
Krauss reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press reporter Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed.