Benny Gantz
Benny GantzYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) on Wednesday addressed the incident in which journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was killed in Jenin.

Speaking at the Knesset, Gantz said, "I would like to express my sorrow at the loss of journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh. The State of Israel values the protection of human life above all, as well as freedom of press. IDF troops would never intentionally harm members of the press, and any attempt to imply otherwise is baseless."

"The accusations by certain Knesset members and other individuals, against Israel’s communications institutions, and in particular the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, are false. I would like to express my support to our defense forces and to all the units that work solely to maintain our security and to reflect the truth."

About the incident itself, Gantz said, "Preliminary findings from the investigation conducted by the IDF in the last several hours indicate that no gunfire was directed at the journalist – however the investigation is ongoing. On the other hand, we have seen footage of indiscriminate shooting by Palestinian terrorists, which is likely to have hit the journalist."

"We will communicate our findings in a clear and transparent manner to our American friends, as well as to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

"I have offered the Palestinians to conduct a joint investigation and to share our findings. I sent a clear message to [PA Chairman] Mahmoud Abbas today, that our responsibility as leaders is to maintain security, to conduct ourselves in a way that will prevent further violence and bloodshed and to uncover the truth.

"We have also communicated with additional countries and officials, including Qatar, where Al Jazeera headquarters are based. We expressed that the findings at this time indicate that there is a reasonable chance that the journalist was shot by Palestinian armed terrorists. This being said, we will conduct an in-depth and comprehensive investigation and deliver our findings to them.

"We are currently in the midst of an ongoing investigation of the incident - it is important that we uncover the truth about how it unfolded."

Concluding his remarks, Gantz noted, "Finally, we must not forget that we are facing a murderous terror wave that has claimed 19 innocent lives in recent weeks. We will continue to take all the necessary measures to fight terrorism and to maintain the security of the citizens of Israel. This is our top mission."

"We will do this in a way that reflects the values of the State of Israel - being as precise as possible and taking measures to prevent harm to uninvolved civilians. At the same time, we will continue to investigate incidents in which people have been harmed.

"We conduct such in-depth investigations and I am proud of the IDF troops that continue to serve us and I will continue to provide them with the support needed to conduct their activities."