Geneva – An independent international investigation should be opened into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said Tuesday in a statement expressing concern that failing to bring her justice perpetuates impunity.
The US State Department’s announcement that independent investigators were unable to reach a final conclusion after a carful forensic analysis of the projectile that killed Abu Akleh is expected.
According to the State Department’s statement, “ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh”.
The statement also said that the investigation “concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh” but “found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel”.
The results seem to be an attempt to clear those responsible for the killing of Abu Akleh from charges. According to Euro-Med Monitor’s field investigations, the journalist was hit by an Israeli bullet just below the ear, in an area that was unprotected by her helmet—which suggests she was intentionally targeted—before Israeli soldiers continued to shoot at anyone who tried to approach to help.
Euro-Med Monitor documented testimonies on the day of the incident. At about 6:30am on Wednesday 11 May 2022, a vehicle carrying a group of journalists arrived at a roundabout in Jenin refugee camp to cover the Israeli army’s raid. Israeli army forces were deployed, and snipers climbed onto the roofs of houses in the camp. Abu Akleh got out of the vehicle—wearing a press vest and a helmet—and took several steps before “Israeli snipers shot her with a bullet below the ear, specifically in the only area not covered by the helmet”, according to an eyewitness.
The results of the US investigation, which has failed to bring justice for the journalist, reinforces the need for an independent international investigation, as the findings point to a policy of impunity that encourages further violations.
Rami Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor, said: “We will not give up calling for justice for Palestinian journalist Abu Akleh. The path to achieving justice is clear: an independent and serious international investigation to ensure accountability, fairness, and no impunity.
“The American position on the death of Abu Akleh, who holds American citizenship, was passive from the beginning. There was no strong action on the crime, compared to the response when other American victims have been killed in other parts of the world”.
The killing of Abu Akleh may constitute a war crime; therefore, a transparent and independent international investigation must be opened to determine the truth, based on the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016).
These developments highlight the responsibility of United Nations bodies to take measures ensuring lack of impunity, especially given Israel’s long record of refraining from conducting sincere independent investigations, as it has conducted many formal investigations that have often ended without results.