Palestinians reject Israel’s offer for joint probe into Al Jazeera reporter’s death

“To uncover the truth, there must be a real investigation, and the Palestinians are currently preventing that.” 

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Authority have blamed Israel for the death of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, who was shot and killed while reporting in Jenin during a firefight between the IDF and Palestinian terrorists early Wednesday morning.

The blame was issued immediately, prior to any probe into the incident.

Al Jazeera called on the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague.”

“We pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice,” the network said in a statement.

Israel has called for a joint Israeli-Palestinian investigation, but the Palestinians have so far refused.

“The Palestinian Authority rushed to blame Israel for her death, and the president of the PA made unfounded accusations against Israel before any investigation had been carried out,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

“Based on preliminary information that we have, there is a significant possibility that the journalist was shot by the armed Palestinians. However, to uncover the truth, there must be a real investigation, and the Palestinians are currently preventing that.

“Without a serious investigation, we will not reach the truth,” Bennett affirmed.

“Israel has called on the PA to conduct a joint forensic analysis based on all the documentation and findings available in order to uncover the truth. As I said, the Palestinians are refusing, and I expect them to cooperate and refrain from any actions that may contaminate the investigation,” he added.

The prime minister went on to clarify “the broader context” surrounding the incident.

“For two months, Israel’s citizens have been subject to a series of deadly terrorist attacks. Palestinian terrorists carry out premeditated attacks to murder Israelis,” he said.

The IDF raid in Jenin was “part of a series of counterterrorism efforts meant to put an end to the wave of terrorism and restore security to Israeli citizens.

“We are determined to continue until we have achieved our goal, and we stand by our men and women of the IDF, the ISA and the police, who risk their lives daily to protect ours,” he declared.

Defense minister: Israel’s security ‘our top mission’

“The accusations by certain Knesset members and other individuals, against Israel’s communications institutions, and in particular the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, are false,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement, apparently referring to MKs of the  anti-Zionist Arab Joint List faction who also blamed Israel immediately.

“I would like to express my support to our defense forces and to all the units that work solely to maintain our security and to reflect the truth,” Gantz said.

He echoed Bennett’s message regarding the need for an investigation and the context surrounding the incident.

“Preliminary findings from the investigation conducted by the IDF in the last several hours indicate that no gunfire was directed at the journalist – however the investigation is ongoing. On the other hand, we have seen footage of indiscriminate shooting by Palestinian terrorists, which is likely to have hit the journalist,” he said.

Furthermore, “we must not forget that we are facing a murderous terror wave that has claimed 19 innocent lives in recent weeks. We will continue to take all the necessary measures to fight terrorism and to maintain the security of the citizens of Israel. This is our top mission.”

Washington is also calling for “thorough investigation.” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides confirmed that Abu Akleh held American citizenship.

Telegram blogger Abu Ali Express reported that children in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip were taken out of the school to be photographed with a picture of Abu Akleh.