JERUSALEM — Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority have formally requested US assistance in the investigation into the killing of an American-Palestinian journalist during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, the Department of Intelligence said Wednesday. State.
An AP reconstruction of the May 11 murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh supports Palestinian witnesses who say she was shot by Israeli soldiers. But Israel and the PA each have exclusive possession of potentially crucial evidence necessary for any final conclusion.
Israel says Abu Akleh was killed in a complex shootout between soldiers and Palestinian militants, and that only a ballistic analysis of the bullet – which is held by the PA – and the soldiers’ weapons, can determine whether one of them fired the fatal shot.
The involvement of a third party could overcome the serious mistrust between the parties, allowing a full and unbiased account of what happened. But there is no indication that either is willing to cede control of their own investigation.
Israel has publicly called for a joint investigation with the PA, with US participation.
But this week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said he was “not aware of any requests for assistance” from either side. When asked at a press briefing on Wednesday – two weeks after Abu Akleh’s death – whether the United States had been asked to participate or act as an observer, he stood by his earlier answer. .
“We have made it clear to the Israeli and Palestinian authorities that we expect the investigations to be transparent and impartial, a full and thorough account of the circumstances of the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh,” Price said.
Any US involvement would require a request from both Israel and the PA, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat said “Israeli officials have publicly invited the United States to participate in the investigation.” He added that “similar messages have been passed on official channels”, but declined to give further details.
The Palestinian Authority said it was conducting its own investigation and would share the results with international parties. He refused to hand over the buck or cooperate with Israel in any way, saying he did not trust Israel to investigate on his own.
Hours after his death, the AP and Qatar-based Al Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately killing Abu Akleh, but offered no specific evidence to support the claim, which Israel strongly denies. .
Ballistics analysis could potentially match the bullet to a specific firearm, but only if investigators have access to both. Israel and the Palestinians are unlikely to accept the other side’s conclusions.
Abu Akleh had spent more than 25 years covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She was a widely known and respected on-air correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic service, where she reported on Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank for nearly 55 years. She is now seen by Palestinians as a martyr both to journalism and to their national struggle.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.