Jerusalem, 11 May, 2022 (TPS) — Arab terrorists who were “firing indiscriminately” at IDF forces conducting a counterterrorism operation in Jenin were “responsible for the unfortunate death” of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in response to accusations that the IDF had deliberately targeted her.
Abu Akleh was killed during the fighting in the Jenin Refugee Camp on Wednesday morning, and the IDF has launched an investigation into the incident.
The Palestinian Authority condemned what it described as “the crime of execution” by the IDF of Abu Akleh.
“The Presidency holds the Israeli government fully responsible for this heinous crime,” it said, stressing that “it is part of the daily policy pursued by the occupation against our people, their land and their holy sites.”
The PA further claimed that “the crime of executing journalist Abu Akleh and wounding journalist Ali Samoudi is part of the occupation’s policy of targeting journalists to obscure the truth and commit crimes silently.”
Responding to the allegations, Bennett stated that “according to the information we have gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians — who were firing indiscriminately at the time — were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist.”
He referred to a clip filmed by the Palestinians in Jenin in which a terrorist is seen firing rapidly, and then others boasting “we hit a soldier; he’s lying on the ground.”
“However, no IDF soldier was injured, which increases the possibility that Palestinian terrorists were the ones who shot the journalist,” Bennett said.
He further noted that Israel has called on the Palestinians to conduct a joint pathological analysis and investigation, “which would be based on all of the existing documentation and findings, in order to get to the truth. So far, the Palestinians have refused this offer.”
“IDF forces will continue their counterterrorism operations, in order to end the deadly wave of terror and restore security to the citizens of Israel,” he concluded.
Foreign Minister Spokesperson Lior Haiat stated that Israel is “saddened by the death of senior Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh during a heavy exchange of fire in the midst of a counter-terror operation in Jenin. A free and fair press is fundamental to Israel and all democracies, and as such, journalists must be protected.”
“There are indications that Ms. Abu Akleh was killed by Palestinian terrorist fire. Israel will be conducting a thorough investigation. We call on the Palestinian Authority to cooperate with said investigation to get to the truth,” he added.
Also commenting on the clip, Israeli Minister of Communications Yoaz Handel said that “this is what Jenin looks this morning when armed Palestinians are firing indiscriminately. One of the combatants can be heard saying: “We hit a soldier, he’s down.” The facts: No IDF soldier was hurt. We’re looking into it. The plausible explanation – the journalist was hit by the Palestinian cross-fire. The claim that IDF forces were responsible is nothing more than false propaganda.”
An autopsy could determine the caliber of the bullet from which she was killed. The terrorists usually Kalashnikov rifles with a larger 7.62-mm caliber, as opposed to the 5.56 mm caliber rounds shot by the IDF’s M-16 rifles.
A government official said that Israel has called for a joint pathological investigation, “but the Palestinians are refusing, perhaps in order to hide the truth.”