Jerusalem24– Palestinian legal and human rights organization Al-Haq has released the preliminary findings of their investigation into the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
The organization based their findings on a detailed timeline of events they constructed based on witness statements, video evidence, and geolocation tools, as well as autopsy results and preliminary ballistics examination.
“We were able to conclude that the bullets fired in the direction of the Palestinian journalists were indeed shot by the Israeli occupation soldiers and not the [Palestinian] resistance fighters,” the report said.
Al-Haq based this conclusion on the known location of the Palestinian gunmen, which was out of line of sight of the journalists at the scene, as well as the location of the Israeli snipers. Al-Haq also asserted that the type of ammunition extracted from Abu Akleh’s body is only available to Israeli forces and cannot be found among Palestinian militant factions.
The report also explained that the shots were taken in succession rather in a continuous manner, suggesting the shooter was not discharging their weapon blindly but rather was trained on their target.
“According to the facts of the preliminary investigation, what happened to Shireen Abu Akleh qualifies as premeditated murder. This is a war crime that falls within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.”
The report further relayed that the group of journalists were clearly visible to the Israeli soldiers, and stayed in place for a number of minutes in order to allow the soldiers to identify them as press before proceeding to enter the field to begin their broadcast.
At that moment, according to eyewitness testimony from the camp, a Palestinian gunman started shooting towards the soldiers, and the soldiers immediately started firing in the direction of the journalists.
The journalists who tried to retreat were pinned down by gunfire. Ali Samoudi was hit in the back and Abu Akleh was hit in the head immediately afterwards. The gunfire continued while a resident of the camp attempted to evacuate Abu Akleh and fellow journalist Shadha Hanaysha.
The report stressed that all members of the press were wearing clearly-marked press and safety gear.
In conclusion, Al-Haq stated that the killing of Abu Akleh by Israeli forces constituted “a war crime” in contravention of a number of international laws, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.