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Israel and Palestine Launch Separate Investigations of Bullet that Killed Al Jazeera Journalist

Israel, El American

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The attorney general of the Palestinian Authority (PA), with its capital in Ramallah, said that the ballistic test for Abu Akleh‘s death will be conducted in the presence of Americans, with the assurance that Israel will not participate. However, Jerusalem reported Sunday that it will directly analyze the bullet that killed the Palestinian reporter. An observer from Washington will be present in a procedure that should provide definitive results.

The PA finally handed over the bullet Saturday to an American security coordinator. Washington has yet to issue a statement on the May 11 death of Abu Akleh during an Israel Defense Forces operation in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The difference between the parties over the event may influence President Joe Biden’s visit next week.

The Palestinians accused — without evidence — the Israeli army of deliberately killing the reporter. Israel denied the accusation and said she may well have been hit by a stray bullet. Either from the army or from the Palestinians, who fired chaotically at their forces.

The test will not be American, but Israeli, with an American presence, explained military spokesman Ran Kochav. In the coming days “it will be become clear whether it was even us who killed her, accidentally, or whether it was the Palestinian gunmen,” he told Army Radio.

Akram al-Khatib, attorney general of the autonomy governed by Abu Mazen, said the test will be held at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. According to him, he received assurances from the American mediator that they would conduct the test themselves. He added that he hoped the bullet would be returned soon.

President Biden will hold meetings with Israeli leaders from July 13-16, as well as a separate conversation with Palestinian leaders.

The Abu Akleh case will be a diplomatic test for the new premier Yair Lapid, who managed the transfer of the bullet. It will take several days to do a full ballistic test, with several experts, to ensure a safe conclusion. Israel will be able to determine whether the shooter was an IDF soldier or a Palestinian terrorist.

Abu Akleh, 51, lived in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem, and died on May 11 while covering a military operation at a Palestinian base in Jenin. The PA blamed the IDF for the incident. However, it refused to transfer the bullet for analysis to see if it matched the rifles used by its military.

Days before President Joe Biden is due to arrive in Israel, Ramallah relented and agreed to hand over the shell to an American team. Deputy Public Security Minister Yoav Segalovitz stated that it would take several days to conduct the necessary tests. He explained that Acting Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who heads his party — Yesh Atid — was directly involved in the agreement to transfer the ammunition.

The IDF said that Abu Akleh was killed during an exchange of fire between soldiers and Palestinian terrorists, and that it was not possible to determine for sure which of the two forces was responsible, without analyzing the bullet.

The American embassy in Israel, located in Jerusalem by decision of President Donald Trump — and maintained by his successor Joe Biden — stated that there is no update on the issue at this time.

Eduardo Zalovich, Uruguayan-Israeli, is a history professor and journalist. He has written for several media, such as La Vanguardia, El Confidencial, Vozpopuli, Búsqueda and Correo de los Viernes. Zalovich analyzes, from the Middle East, the reality of the region and international politics. // Eduardo Zalovich, uruguayo-israelí, es profesor de Historia y periodista. Ha escrito para varios medios, como La Vanguardia, El Confidencial, Vozpopuli, Búsqueda y Correo de los Viernes. Analiza, desde el Medio Oriente, la realidad de la zona y la política internacional.

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