Palestinians to hand over bullet that killed journalist to US investigators

U.S. pressed Ramallah to cooperate; Israel not a party to the agreement.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

The Palestinian Authority will hand over to U.S. investigators the bullet which killed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

“Approval has been given for the American side to conduct a forensic examination of the bullet that killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The bullet will not be turned over to Israel,” PA Public Prosecutor Akram al-Khatib told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

Abu Akleh was covering a shootout in Jenin in May when she struck in the head by a bullet. Palestinians claim she was hit by Israeli fire, with some accusing IDF forces of deliberately targeting her.

The IDF says its soldiers may have hit her, but the reporter may have been killed by Palestinian gunfire. Israel stresses it does not target journalists.

With the Palestinians refusing to hand over the bullet to Israeli investigators or cooperate in a joint probe, the IDF could not complete its investigation. IDF investigators are said to have narrowed down the rifle that may have fired the fatal shot.

According to Haaretz, Israel is not a party to the U.S.-Palestinian agreement. Israeli officials have not yet commented on Khatib’s comments or whether the IDF will likewise turn over the rifle to the Americans.

For weeks, Ramallah has refused to cooperate not only with Israel, but with the U.S. as well. The U.S. State Dept. said Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the investigation with PA President Mahmoud Abbas by phone. According to Axios, the U.S. has been pressing the Palestinians to cooperate.

Khatib’s announcement comes ahead of President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit. Biden is scheduled to visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia July 13-16.

The White House is facing Congressional pressure to get to the bottom of Abu Akleh’s death, including letters from bipartisan and Democratic lawmakers.