Graffiti of slain Al Jazeera journalist Abu Alqeh
Graffiti of slain Al Jazeera journalist Abu Alqeh Flash90

The US released the results of the ballistic examination of the bullet Monday which killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh during a firefight between IDF and terrorist forces in Jenin in May.

The State Department said: "After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh. Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion."

The State Department stated that it was most likely that Abu Aqleh was accidentally shot by an Israeli soldier, but it could not say for certain. "In addition to the forensic and ballistic analysis, the USSC was granted full access to both Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority (PA) investigations over the last several weeks. By summarizing both investigations, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Aqleh. The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel."

"The United States appreciates and continues to encourage cooperation between Israel and the PA in this important case. We will remain engaged with Israel and the PA on next steps and urge accountability. We again offer our deepest condolences to the Abu Aqleh family," the State Department concluded.

The IDF released a statement Monday afternoon following release of the findings of the examination of the bullet.

"Since March 2022, 19 people have been killed in multiple terrorist attacks in Israel. In response to this deadly wave of terror, the IDF and Israeli security forces have been carrying out counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria with the aim of thwarting potential terror attacks, stopping terrorist activity and protecting Israeli civilians," The IDF statement began.

"On May 11, 2022, IDF soldiers conducted counterterrorism activity in the area of Jenin. During the IDF’s operational activity, Palestinian gunmen fired heavily and indiscriminately, including directly toward IDF soldiers. In addition, explosives were hurled and hit IDF vehicles and nearly hit soldiers. Near the conclusion of the IDF’s counterterrorism activities in the area, the journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was hit.

"Ever since this tragic incident, the IDF has been examining and reviewing the circumstances of Ms. Abu Aqleh’s death. The Chief of the General Staff ordered a special task force composed of experts in different fields, among other things, to reconstruct and model the circumstances of the incident as accurately as possible.

"The IDF investigation concluded that the source of the fire that led to the death of Ms. Abu Aqleh could not be determined based on the available information.

"The IDF investigation conclusively determined that no IDF soldier deliberately fired at Ms. Abu Aqleh.

"This past Saturday, the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) received the bullet that was alleged to have killed the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh from Palestinian authorities, in order to conduct a professional and impartial ballistic examination. The bullet remained under the custodianship of Lieutenant General ( * * * ) Michael R. Fenzel after receiving it from the Palestinian authorities until it was returned yesterday (Sunday) after the examination was conducted.

"A ballistic examination was conducted in a forensic laboratory in Israel. Israeli experts examined the bullet in order to determine the connection between the bullet and the weapon from which it was fired. USSC representatives were present throughout the entire process.

"Despite these efforts, the physical condition of the bullet and the quality of the characteristics on it do not enable a ballistic examination to conclusively determine whether or not the bullet was fired from the weapon which was examined.

"Following these findings, the Chief of the General Staff, LTG Aviv Kohavi, ordered to continue to examine and investigate the incident while using all available means, committed to transparency and seeking out the truth. The decision of the Military Advocate General regarding whether to launch a criminal investigation will be made following the conclusion of the IDF’s operational examination.

"The IDF will continue to thwart terrorism wherever needed while taking precautions and measures to prevent harm to non-combatants. The IDF regrets harm to non-combatants, including during an exchange of fire or active combat zones, and is fully committed to protecting the sanctity of human life and the protection of the freedom of the press," the IDF statement concluded.