Calls mounted on Wednesday for an independent investigation into the killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead as she covered an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank.
The Qatar-based TV channel charged that Israeli forces deliberately and “in cold blood” shot Abu Akleh, 51, a Palestinian-American and a Christian, in the head during the unrest in the Jenin refugee camp.
Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who briefed reporters late Wednesday, appeared to distance himself from earlier remarks by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who had said it was “likely” that Abu Akleh was killed by stray Palestinian gunfire.
“Our initial findings from the investigation cannot indicate what gunfire was directed at Shireen and cannot exclude any option under this operational chaos”, Gantz said. He said Palestinian gunmen in Jenin were firing from “multiple directions.”
“We are not certain how she was killed,” added Gantz, who called Abu Akleh’s death “a serious loss.”
Another Al Jazeera journalist, producer Ali al-Samudi, was wounded in the incident in which both wore helmets and vests marked “Press”.
Samudi said no Palestinian fighters were nearby, stressing that otherwise “we would not have gone into the area”.