In a memorial ceremony marking 40 days since the murder of Shireen Abu Aqleh by Israeli regime forces, the Palestinian Authority has demanded the occupation forces hand over the assault rifle that killed the prominent Palestinian journalist.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): In a memorial ceremony marking 40 days since the murder of Shireen Abu Aqleh by Israeli regime forces, the Palestinian Authority has demanded the occupation forces hand over the assault rifle that killed the prominent Palestinian journalist.
High-ranking Palestinian political figures attended the commemoration event, in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, including Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh who delivered a speech saying “we have refused to hand over the bullet to them, and we demand that they hand over the weapon that murdered Shireen Abu Aqleh,”
Abu Aqleh was shot and killed last month while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in what Palestinian officials described as an Israeli “war crime.”
An investigation by the Palestinian Authority says that an Israeli soldier shot dead the veteran Palestinian-American Al Jazeera news channel reporter.
The Palestinian probe reflected identical results by many organizations and media outlets including CNN, Al Jazeera, and several other major news organizations who conducted their own investigations.
Abu Aqleh was a household name in the Arab world, the 51-year-old covered, uncovered, and exposed Israeli crimes and Palestinian suffering with on-the-ground TV reporting for 25 years.
The cold-blooded murder appears to be part of the Israeli campaign to silence the Palestinian voice in a similar fashion to its designation of six Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations. These were groups that provided evidence to the ICC investigating Israeli war crimes, as well as information to the outside world about Palestinian suffering.
By silencing the Palestinians, Israel believed it can carry on with its task of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. Lately, the regime has been killing Palestinians on a regular basis.
According to the CNN probe, Abu Aqleh was actively targeted when she was shot dead.
Shtayyeh said that “Shireen’s case has become a witness in the International Criminal Court to the crimes of the occupation,” he warned that not punishing Israel would make [the regime] kill more “that is why Israel must be punished,”
The commemoration event, which was organized by the Palestinian Ministry of Women’s Affairs also held a special photo exhibition for the slain veteran journalist, who was wearing a helmet and blue protective vest marked “Press” (used by all journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories) when she was shot dead.
The Minister for Women’s Affairs, Amal Hamad said, during her speech, that “Shireen represents the suffering of Palestinian women, as well as the martyrdom of the [female] journalists Ghufran and Rasna, as well as female prisoners and detainees in the occupation prisons.”
Speaking at the ceremony on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the deputy head of the Fatah movement, Mahmoud al-Aloul, said the Palestinian criminal investigation was “transparent, professional and carried out by the Public Prosecution and the Palestinian security services, it revealed the truth, and the investigation’s results are available to all international bodies, and a copy of it was handed over to the Abu Aqleh’s family and Al Jazeera.”
Al Jazeera has confirmed it has obtained an image of the bullet that was used to kill it’s veteran journalist.
The news channel announced that ballistic and forensic experts who viewed the image said it was a “green-tipped bullet” which was “designed to pierce armor and is used in an M4 rifle.”
The round was extracted from the reporter’s head and analyzed by Al Jazeera using 3D models; which experts told the news station was a “5.56mm caliber – the same used by Israeli forces” and that “the round was designed and manufactured in the United States”
A military expert told the news network the weapon and round used are regularly carried by Israeli troops “This M4 and this munition is used by the Israeli army. It is available and used by the units. I cannot say the whole unit, or most of the soldiers, but they use it,” the military expert said.
“When any soldier uses it, he uses it for a definite target – he wants to hunt, he wants to kill … There is no way to use it for another thing,” he added.
The Palestinian Authority has pledged to retain possession of the bullet, refusing to hand it over to the Israeli military saying it does not trust the regime.
Palestinians have instead referred the case to the international criminal court in The Hague, which is investigating Israeli war crimes.
The Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Riyad Al-Maliki, said in his speech that “the assassination of Shireen Abu Aqleh is a war crime that is added to the list of systematic crimes, and that the occupation is committing its crimes against the Palestinian people in perpetuating the apartheid regime, and in violation of the provisions of international law.”
Al-Maliki also said that “despite the international condemnation of the crime of killing Abu Aqleh, Israel did not heed these convictions, and attacked her body, suppressed her funeral, attacked her home, and prevented mourners from reaching it.”
He pointed out that “the policy of impunity that Israel has entrenched has allowed it to repeat these crimes against journalists.”
The Palestinian foreign minister concluded, “[The PA] has submitted a report to the International Criminal Office about the crime of assassinating Abu Aqleh, and on the ninth of this month, we handed over the prosecutor to the court, Karim Khan, the investigation file related to her martyrdom, and that the State of Palestine will not accept that Israel investigates this crime.”
Israel has given mixed accounts of the murder case, initially claiming Palestinian gunfire left the journalist dead. The regime’s narrative later changed after footage of the shooting contradicted Israeli claims. Under mounting pressure, the regime quickly acknowledged that one of it’s troops may have been responsible.
Among the regime’s latest statements is that is cannot conduct a probe without undergoing ballistic testing into the lethal bullet.
Palestinians doubt any Israeli investigation will lead to accountability. Other Palestinian journalists who also wore a vest with “Press” clearly labeled on it have been shot dead by Israeli snipers.
The regime regularly claims to be conducting an investigation after killing journalists but nothing ever emerges from the alleged probe. The case of Yasser Murtaja is one of the more notable recent murders by Israeli regime snipers. After Murtaja was shot dead in 2018 in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israel only claimed to have launched an investigation into his murder after an international outcry but later closed the case.
The Israeli army’s so-called top lawyer has already said any criminal charges in Abu Aqleh’s murder would be unlikely because the circumstances surrounding her killing “amounted to active combat.”
Israel has already closed the case it was supposedly investigating into the regime’s military viciously attacking mourners carrying Abu Aqleh coffin during the funeral possession, causing the casket to fall. The attack on the funeral caused global outrage which even embarrassed the regime’s staunchest ally the United States.
In essence, all the evidence points to the targeted killing of the Al Jazeera journalist during a time of heightened tensions in occupied Palestinian territories.
During the ceremony, the head of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Nasser Abu Bakr, said “the day will come when the killers will be held accountable for their crime, and that the killing of Shireen comes in the context of a systematic policy.”
Shireen’s brother, Antoine Abu Aqleh, also spoke at the event demanding justice for his sister so that “her memory remains eternal.”
He also expressed his gratitude to everyone who have stood up for his sister over the past 40 days.