Ned Price
Ned PriceREUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/POOL/File Photo

The US State Department on Monday called for “accountability” after the IDF released the results of the investigation into the shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh.

“Today, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported that it had concluded its investigation into the circumstances surrounding Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, and stated there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

“We welcome Israel’s review of this tragic incident, and again underscore the importance of accountability in this case, such as policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” he added.

“The United States has made it a priority to mitigate and respond to civilian harm caused by military operations. The Department of Defense recently underscored the need to improve its own assessments and practices to ensure civilian harm mitigation and we will continue to share best practices with our military partners and allies around the world,” continued the spokesperson.

“Our thoughts remain with the Abu Akleh family as they grieve this tremendous loss – and with the many others worldwide who brought Shireen and her news reports into their homes for more than two decades. Not only was Shireen an American citizen, she was a fearless reporter whose journalism and pursuit of truth earned her the respect of audiences around the world,” concluded Price.

Earlier on Monday, the Commanding Officer of the Central Command, Yehuda Fuchs, presented the Chief of the General Staff, Aviv Kochavi, with the final conclusions of the investigation into the death of Abu Aqleh.

The investigation stated that a ballistic examination determined that in light of the poor physical state of the bullet, identifying the source from which it was fired is difficult. Therefore, it was also not possible to determine from this investigation whether or not the bullet was fired from an IDF rifle.

“According to the investigations and their findings, it appears that it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Aqleh. However, there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Aqleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire in which life-threatening, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers. It is also important to emphasize and clarify that throughout the entire incident, IDF gunfire was fired with the intent of neutralizing the terrorists who shot at IDF soldiers. An additional possibility is that Ms. Abu Aqleh was hit by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen toward the direction of the area in which she was present in,” the report said.

Abu Aqleh, an American-Palestinian Arab, was shot dead on May 11 while covering clashes between IDF soldiers and terrorists in Jenin for Al Jazeera.

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.

Members of Abu Aqleh’s family recently met Secretary of State Antony Blinken to demand justice for her death. Lina Abu Aqleh, Shireen Abu Aqleh's niece, posted on Twitter after that meeting that family members wanted to meet President Joe Biden himself and that anything short of a US investigation that led to accountability was unacceptable.

Blinken later spoke with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and raised the issue of Abu Aqleh in the conversation.

“Secretary Blinken reiterated the administration’s belief that Israelis and Palestinians deserve to enjoy equal measures of security, freedom, and democracy. The Secretary also raised the tragic killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the need for accountability,” Price said at the time.