US: Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh Likely Killed By Israeli Gunfire

The U.S. has concluded that the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank in May was likely the result of gunfire from the Israeli Defense Forces. Read the transcript here.

Corey: (00:00)
We have breaking news. The us has concluded that the bullet that killed a Palestinian American journalist in May likely came from Israeli defense forces. Palestinians have accused the Israeli military of killing her deliberately.

Israel has denied this. US security coordinators said there’s no reason to believe it was intentional, but they could not reach a definitive conclusion to the bullet’s origin. NBC’s Raf Sanchez is in Tel Aviv with us for the very latest, and Raf, what more can you tell us at this hour?

Speaker 2: (00:29)
Yeah, Corey, more than a month after the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, the veteran Palestinian American journalist, the US government is now saying based on the available evidence, it appears likely that she was killed by Israeli gunfire.

Now, as you said, they’re saying there’s no evidence that she was killed deliberately, but this is the US weighing in on this very disputed event that happened in the occupied West Bank back in May 11th, and saying it does appear that she was killed by Israeli troops.

Now the reason they are not able to say definitively whether the fatal shot was fired by the Israelis is because that ballistic testing on the bullet which killed Shireen Abu Akleh was inconclusive. The US saying that bullet was badly damaged and despite intensive ballistic testing, they weren’t able to reach a final conclusion.

Speaker 2: (01:26)
Now, in some ways, this is not a result that is going to satisfy anybody. We are already starting to see Palestinian human rights groups saying that this is not the firm conclusion that they feel should be reached.

They say that there is enough eyewitness testimony from the team that was with Shireen Abu Akleh that shows that she was indeed killed by Israeli forces. The Israelis, in their own statement released at the same time as the US government, are not taking responsibility for this shooting.

Palestine: Palestinians hand over the bullet that killed journalist to the United States

They are not responding to this American conclusion that it appears likely that they fired the fatal shot. They’re saying at this point, given that the ballistics was inconclusive, there is no way to know one way or another, and that they will continue investigating.

Speaker 2: (02:16)
Now, Corey, remember Shireen Abu Akleh, one of the most prominent journalists in the Middle East, watched in hundreds of millions of homes all across the Arab world on Al Jazeera.

She was the woman who brought people the news about what was happening in Israel and the occupied West Bank. It’s hard to overstate how big a deal her death was. Her funeral in Jerusalem, you might remember, led to those ugly scenes where we saw Israeli police attacking mourners as they carried her coffin.

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But today the US government is providing something of a conclusion saying it does appear likely that she was killed by Israeli troops. And of course this all comes just nine days before president Biden touches down in Israel on his first trip to the country as president. Corey.

Corey: (03:02)
With protest likely planned given this breaking news. All right, Raf Sanchez out of Tel Aviv for us. Raf, thank you.

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