A preliminary investigation into Wednesday's gun battle between IDF troops and terror suspects in Jenin revealed that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqlah was located to the north of the IDF unit taking part in the fighting, while most of the bullets fired by the soldiers were shot towards the south.
However, individual bullets were also fired in a northerly direction, so the IDF has not completely ruled out the possibility that the journalist was killed by its troops. There is also a chance Shireen was hit when a stray bullet ricocheted off a nearby structure.
A security source was quoted by Galei Tzahal correspondent Doron Kadosh as saying that, "Until we get the bullet [used to kill Abu Aqlah], we have no way of getting to the bottom of this case. The journalist was in the [general] line of fire, and could have been shot by any of the combatants on the scene.
Hussein a-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority's minister in charge of civilian affairs and one of the PA's senior officials tasked with maintaining relations with Israel, announced on Thursday morning that the PA has rejected an Israeli request to hold a joint investigation into the shooting.
"Israel requested that we hold a joint investigation into the incident and into the bullet that murdered journalist Shireen," a-Sheikh wrote on Twitter. "We refused, and announced that our investigation will be conducted independently, and at its conclusion, we will inform the family of Abu Aqleh, the Americans, Qatar, and the whole world, of the results of the investigation which will be conducted with a high level of transparency. All the indications and witness accounts point to the fact that she was assassinated by an Israeli special forces unit," he added.
The IDF's initial investigation of the incident has revealed that the Palestinian journalist was standing between 100 and 150 meters away from the IDF forces who were operating in Jenin when she was hit by gunfire. It remains unclear whether Abu Aqleh was hit by Israeli fire or by a bullet fired by armed gunmen who had attacked the IDF force.
According to a senior security official, Israel, "acting transparently and with openness, has proposed to Palestinian Authority and American representatives that we send our own representatives to be present at the forensics examination of the bullet."
Speaking on Kan 11, Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, the head of the IDF's Central Command, said that he has not ruled out any potential source of the bullet. "Wild, unchecked gunfire was directed at IDF forces operating in the area," he said. "They were shot at from a number of directions, and at this stage, I am unable to determine what exactly hit Abu Aqleh."
IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochavi has also said that the inability of the Palestinians to determine the source of the gunfire testifies to the complexity of the incident. However, he added that if the bullet were to be transferred to Israeli forensics experts, its source could be identified.
The IDF stated that "in response to the terrorist attacks in Israel in recent weeks, the IDF has been conducting counterterrorism activities in various locations in Judea and Samaria, focusing on the Jenin area. This is the area from which the terrorists who carried out the latest attacks in Israel originated."
"As part of the operation, IDF, ISA and Israel Border Police forces operated overnight and this morning in the Jenin Camp in order to apprehend individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities.