A video used by Israel to suggest that the shot that killed Al Jazeera’s journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank was fired by Palestinian fighters is not connected to her death, an Al Jazeera investigation has shown.
On Wednesday, Israeli government social media accounts, as well as that of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, referenced a video purporting to show Palestinian fighters firing guns in an alleyway in Jenin, arguing that the video proved that there was a strong chance Abu Akleh was shot by Palestinians, and not by Israeli forces, as witnesses and Al Jazeera have said.
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However, an investigation by Al Jazeera’s Sanad news verification and monitoring unit, revealed that the Palestinian fighters shown in the video were not located near Abu Akleh in the Jenin refugee camp at the time of her shooting.
Sanad geolocated the video to an area approximately 300 metres (985 feet) away from where Abu Akleh was shot, in an area surrounded by residential buildings, and without any clear line of sight to Abu Akleh’s location.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem also conducted its own research into the claims and released a video on Wednesday that cast doubt on the Israeli army’s narrative of the killing of the journalist.
B’Tselem wrote in a series of tweets that its field researcher in Jenin documented the exact locations in which the Palestinian fighter, depicted in a video distributed by the Israeli army, had fired the shots.
The researcher also identified the exact location in which Abu Akleh was shot and killed.
“Documentation of Palestinian gunfire distributed by Israeli military cannot be the gunfire that killed Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” the organisation wrote in a tweet.
The organisation provided coordinates for the two locations, which were separated by walls and buildings, and corroborated Sanad’s verification.
This morning, B’Tselem’s field researcher in Jenin documented the exact locations in which the Palestinian gunman depicted in a video distributed by the Israeli army, fired, as well as the exact location in which Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed. pic.twitter.com/6VbEJJuF7z
— B’Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) May 11, 2022
The Sanad investigation also found that Israeli forces were present on the same street that Abu Akleh was shot on, with metadata showing that a video showing them in the location was recorded at 6:25am (03:25 GMT), approximately the same time Abu Akleh was shot, as is shown on the map.
Israel now appears to be walking back some of its initial claims.
Israel’s military chief, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, has said that it is unclear who shot Abu Akleh.
The Israeli army’s initial investigation, cited by Israeli newspaper Haaretz also showed that Abu Akleh was about 150 metres (328 feet) away from Israeli forces when she was shot and killed and that they had fired bullets during the raid.
“Soldiers from the elite Duvdevan Unit fired a few dozen bullets during the raid in Jenin, the investigation shows, but whether it was Israeli or Palestinian gunfire that killed the Al Jazeera reporter is unknown,” the newspaper said.
Call for an independent probe
The European Union called for an “independent” investigation into Abu Akleh’s death, while the office of the United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said it was “appalled”, and also called for “an independent, transparent investigation”.
But the US Department of State said Israel was capable of conducting a thorough probe into the death of Abu Akleh.
“The Israelis have the wherewithal and the capabilities to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation,” spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing.
Palestine’s Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said his country would “not accept” an investigation by the “Israeli occupying authority” and has held the Israeli army responsible for the “assassination” of Abu Akleh.