Statement says bullets fired at Shireen Abu Akleh were “seemingly well-aimed.”
By Mike Wagenheim, JNS
The Israeli mission to the United Nations in Geneva lambasted a U.N. agency for blaming the death of a Palestinian American journalist on Israel.
On Friday, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a statement saying that it is “deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation” six weeks after the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh under disputed circumstances during a May 11 gun battle between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians in Jenin.
The OHCHR statement added that the agency conducted “independent monitoring” into the incident, determining that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh could have only come from Israeli forces and that the bullets fired at and around Abu Akleh were “seemingly well-aimed.”
The Israeli mission in Geneva responded with its own statement, saying the OHCHR “once again deplorably fails to mention the main obstacle to establishing the truth in this tragic incident: the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to conduct a joint investigation and hand over the bullet. This Palestinian attitude raises doubts.”
The Israeli mission noted that without access to the bullet, it isn’t possible to definitely determine whether Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli security forces or indiscriminate Palestinian gunfire from within the Jenin camp where the IDF was searching for suspects in the midst of an Arab terror spree against Israelis. Eleven of the terror victims were killed by Jenin residents.
“It is regrettable, yet not surprising, that the High Commissioner and her Office do not call for an investigation into those repeated terrorist attacks and the continued incitement by the Palestinians that led to the murder of Israeli civilians, including with firearms, knives and even axes. Shielding the Palestinian Authority and Hamas from their responsibilities and obligations will only encourage them to pursue violence,” said the Israeli mission.
The IDF has been conducting and expanding an inquiry into Abu Akleh’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. According to them, the inquiry has already ruled out the possibility that Abu Akleh was not shot intentionally. Israeli officials have said there has not been a criminal investigation opened because there is no evidence of Israeli criminal activity related to the incident.
International staff from the OHCHR’s Israel/Palestinian bureau did not have their work visas renewed after High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet published an unprecedented blacklist of companies operating in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in 2020, and as a result, Israel froze ties with the agency, a policy that remains in effect.
Without this evidence, it’s not possible for any “independent monitoring” to legitimately conclude whether Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by indiscriminate Palestinian fire or accidentally hit by an IDF soldier. Israel regrets any harm caused to any uninvolved persons during the conduct of operations and takes great care to ensure freedom of opinion and expression, and to protect the invaluable work of journalists.
Since the incident, the IDF has been examining the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death. Recently, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi ordered to broaden the inquiry and decided to expand the team working on it. So far, the inquiry has found that she was not shot intentionally; any other claims remain unfounded.
Over the weeks preceding the incident, 19 innocent people were killed in a wave of terrorist attacks in Israel. Eleven of those victims were killed by terrorists who came from Jenin, leading the IDF to conduct an operation in the area.