The Israeli army said on Monday there was a "high possibility" that a soldier killed a well-known journalist for the Arab channel Al Jazeera on May 11, announcing the results of its investigation into the murder. But she said the shooting was accidental and no one would be punished. Shireen Abu Akleh was assassinated in May while she was covering Israeli military incursions into the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians blamed Israel for the assassination.
Israel initially said she may have been killed by fire from Palestinian activists, but later said a soldier may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist, had covered the West Bank for the satellite channel for two decades and was known throughout the Arab world.
In a briefing for journalists, a senior Israeli official said the military could not conclusively determine where the fire came from and said there may have been armed Palestinians in the same area as the Israeli soldier. But he said the soldier shot the journalist "very likely" and did so by mistake.
The military did not explain why witness accounts and videos showed limited activity by Palestinian activists in the area, as well as no shooting in the surrounding area until a shot hit Abu Akleh and wounded another reporter. “He misidentified her,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under military information guidelines. “Your real-time reports of him… absolutely point to a misidentification.”
The results of the investigation, announced almost four months later, largely align with those of several independent investigations completed much earlier, such as the one by the United Nations.
Abu Akleh's family criticized the investigation, saying the army "tried to hide the truth and avoid responsibility" for the killing. “Our family is not surprised by this result, as it is obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed," they said in a statement. The family also reiterated their call for an independent investigation by the United States and an investigation by the International Criminal Court.