An Al Jazeera investigation obtained an image of the bullet used to kill network journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
The photograph shows for the first time the type of ammunition used to kill the veteran Al Jazeera correspondent in the occupied West Bank last month.
According to ballistics and forensic experts, the green-tipped bullet was designed to pierce armor and is used in an M4 rifle. The bullet was extracted from his head.
The green-tipped bullet was analyzed using 3D models and experts said it was a 5.56mm caliber – the same used by Israeli forces. The cartridge was designed and manufactured in the United States, experts said.
Fayez al-Dwairi, a former Jordanian major general, told Al Jazeera that the gun and bullet used to kill Abu Akleh are regularly carried by Israeli forces.
“This M4 and this ammunition are used by the Israeli army. It is available and used by units. I can’t say the whole unit, or most of the soldiers, but they are using it,” al-Dwairi told Al Jazeera.
“When a soldier uses it, he uses it for a specific target – he wants to hunt, he wants to kill… There’s no way he can use it for anything else.”
Palestinian Deputy Minister Ammar Hijazi told Al Jazeera that the buck would remain with the Palestinian government for further investigation.
In what appeared to be an unprovoked assault at the Al Jazeera correspondent’s funeral a few days later, Israeli officers attacked pallbearers, causing them to nearly knock down Abu Akleh’s coffin – an incident broadcast live which sparked international outrage.
Abu Akleh, a longtime Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent, was killed last month while covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin.
The Abu Akleh case has been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the investigation has recently been entrusted to the ICC prosecutor. However, the progress of the case remains uncertain.
“We believe there is sufficient evidence with the prosecutor…that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime against Shireen Abu Akleh was committed by the Israeli occupation and that they are the perpetrators of this horrific crime. and that they should be held accountable,” Hijazi said.
The Israeli army has confirmed to me that it will not open a criminal investigation into the death of al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, killed during a military operation in Jenin last week.
— Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) May 19, 2022
“Easy to trigger policies”
Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest and standing with other journalists when she was killed.
Israeli authorities initially said Palestinian fighters were responsible for his death, circulating a video of Palestinian men tearing down an alley. However, researchers from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem found the location where the clip was filmed and proved that it was impossible to film Abu Akleh from there.
In an interview, Omar Shakir – Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch – said all the evidence points to the shot being fired by an Israeli soldier.
Sherif Mansour, coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ MENA program, told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC, that “the pattern” of murdering Palestinian media workers “is well known.”
“We have documented at least 19 journalists who were killed by Israeli fire, some of them in the Gaza wars in vehicles marked as press in 2012 and 2014,” Mansour said.
“Some of them were also killed by Israeli snipers while wearing vests with press signs, away from any threatening situation, including two in 2018. Clearly we have a problem here trigger-happy policies that allow this to continue.”
Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, said that for the Palestinians, their version of events is “confirmed by so many investigations”, including the latest by Al Jazeera.
“Palestinians have said from day one that they know the bullet that hit Shireen came from Israeli soldiers. The witnesses, the videos we saw of the Palestinians who were there, show that there were no Palestinian fighters around the area where Shireen was,” Ibrahim said.
“Palestinians are now seeking justice and accountability.”
A dual Palestinian and American national, Abu Akleh was one of Al Jazeera’s first field correspondents, joining the network in 1997.
Ori Givati, a former Israeli soldier who is now part of the advocacy group Breaking the Silence, said the bullet analyzed was a “very common bullet.”
“It’s the ball the most [Israeli] soldiers use while on duty,” he told Al Jazeera. “This investigation into Shireen’s murder is extremely important, but we must also remember that these incidents happen every week.”
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