US demands ‘accountability’ from IDF one day after saying bullet test inconclusive

State Department urges IDF to make changes to ‘safeguard civilians’ after concluding shot that killed Arab-American reporter was ‘likely’ fired by IDF soldier.

By World Israel News Staff

The U.S. State Department suggested Tuesday that the shot which fatally wounded an Arab-American reporter was most likely fired by an Israeli soldier, and urged the IDF to introduce new army regulations to “safeguard civilians.”

Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the US security coordinator who led the American investigation into the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh found that while the source of the fatal shot cannot be definitively established, the bullet likely came from an IDF rifle.

“The security coordinator over the course of several weeks had been granted access to both of those investigations, and in summarizing them, the security coordinator concluded that gunfire from an IDF position was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh,” Price said.

Price emphasized that the US does not believe the IDF intentionally shot Abu Akleh.

“The security coordinator also found no reason to believe that it was an intentional killing but rather the result of tragic circumstances during the course of an IDF-led raid in Jenin against factions of PIJ, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, on May 11th that had followed a series of attacks in recent weeks.”

The State Department spokesperson declined to say whether the US investigation had identified the IDF soldier it believes was most likely responsible for the fatal shot, and refused to comment on whether the US would back a criminal prosecution of the soldier.

Price did say the US is seeking “accountability”, and hopes the IDF will undertake new “steps to further safeguard non-combatants.”

“We do want to see accountability. The IDF is in the midst of its own investigation. As a professional military force, the IDF will be in a position or is in a position to consider steps to see to it that something like this can’t happen again, to consider steps that would safeguard civilian and non-combatant life.”

“We believe there needs to be accountability to see to it that something like this does not happen again.”

On Monday, the US State Department and Israeli military issued separate statements concluding that the forensics tests conducted on the bullet which the Palestinian Authority has claimed killed Abu Akleh were inconclusive.

“After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” Price said.

“Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion.”

The IDF concurred with the assessment, releasing a statement Monday that the source of the fatal gunfire could not be deduced from the bullet.

“The IDF investigation concluded that the source of the fire that led to the death of Ms. Abu Akleh could not be determined based on the available information,” an IDF spokesperson said, while emphasizing that an internal army probe found that no soldiers deliberately shot at Abu Akleh.

“The IDF investigation conclusively determined that no IDF soldier deliberately fired at Ms. Abu Akleh.”

Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old reporter for Al Jazeera, was killed on May 11, while covering a firefight between IDF soldiers and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin.

Because Abu Akleh had U.S. citizenship, President Joe Biden pressured Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate on the investigation. Biden is scheduled to visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia next week.