Shireen Abu Aqleh
Shireen Abu AqlehReuters

US State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters on Wednesday that a new report is expected to uphold findings that Palestinian Arab-American reporter Shireen Abu Aqleh was likely killed by accidental IDF gunfire.

“My understanding is that the US Security Coordinator has not changed the same conclusion that was released last summer that we released when we put out a statement about this, which is that IDF gunfire was likely the reason – unintentionally. But, again, I don’t have any additional updates or assessments to offer on this report,” Patel said in response to a question about the report.

Pressed on whether he expects anyone to be held accountable for the reporter’s death, the spokesman replied, “As we noted in our statement about this last summer was that our findings, that are consistent with the US Security Coordinator’s, is that this was unintentional and due to incredibly tragic circumstances.”

“And so, what we continue to raise with our Israeli partners and with others around the world is ensuring what we can do to take appropriate steps to ensure that when it comes to rules of engagement, that civilians, reporters, members of the media just trying to do their job, are not placed in harm’s way,” added Patel.

Abu Aqleh was shot dead while covering clashes between IDF soldiers and terrorists in Jenin last May. The IDF released a report on Abu Aqleh’s death in September. The report found that it was not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire from which Abu Aqleh was hit and killed.

The report said that there is a high possibility Abu Aqleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire, but it is also possible that she was hit by gunfire from Palestinian Arab terrorists.

Last November, the US administration informed the Israeli government that the FBI has opened an investigation into the death of Abu Aqleh.

The PA initially refused Israel’s request to launch a joint probe to investigate the incident, and instead released the findings of its investigation, claiming that she was shot by IDF forces.

Eventually, the PA finally agreed to a forensic investigation by the US of the bullet that they claim killed Abu Aqleh.