Israeli army admits ‘high possibility’ that soldier killed journalist

Israel’s army has admitted that there was a “high possibility” that its soldier killed prominent Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

In a report published on Monday, the Israeli military said the shooting was accidental and that no one would be punished.

Abu Akleh was killed in May while covering Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin. Her colleague was also wounded by gunfire.

Israel initially claimed that she may have been killed by militant fire, but later said that a soldier may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire.

Palestinians have always blamed Israel for killing Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist who was well known across the Arab world.

In a briefing to reporters, a senior Israeli military official said that their investigations had failed to establish exactly who fired the bullet after four months of investigation.

He acknowledged that a soldier shot the journalist “with very high likelihood,” but denied that Abu Akleh had been targeted, saying the soldier may have “misidentified her as armed Palestinian gunmen”.

A UN report in June found that Abu Akleh had been standing with other reporters and was clearly identifiable as a journalist from her helmet and blue jacket when she was shot.

Witness accounts and videos also show there was only limited militant activity in the area where Abu Akleh was killed.

The journalist’s family has slammed Israeli’s investigation, saying the army “tried to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility” for the killing.

“Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it’s obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes,” a statement read.

“We remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed,” it continued, repeating calls for an independent US investigation and a probe by the International Criminal Court.

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