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Israel says 'high possibility' its military killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Israel says high possibility its military killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ​admitted for the first time on Monday, 5 September, that there is a "high possibility" that a bullet from the Israeli side killed Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in may earlier this year.

"There is a high possibility that Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF (Israel Defence Forces) gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen," said the army's final investigation report into her May 11 death.

The acknowledgment comes after months in which the army had insisted it was impossible to determine the source of the deadly shot that killed the celebrated Al Jazeera journalist in the occupied West Bank, saying it could have been a militant fire.

"Our conclusion is that it's not possible to determine unequivocally which gunfire killed her, but there's a higher probability that she was hit by an errant shot of an IDF soldier who did not identify her as a journalist," a senior Israeli military officer said.

Abu Akleh was wearing a bulletproof vest marked "Press" and a helmet when she was shot in the head during an Israeli army operation.

The Abu Akleh family said that Israel had "refused to take responsibility for the murder" of the journalist, in a press release issued in the wake of the army's report.

"We remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed," the family said, calling for a "credible" US investigation.

The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of intentionally killing the reporter in the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank, whereas Israel has insisted that even if a soldier fired the fatal shot it was not deliberate.

Al-Jazeera said it denounced the findings of the Israeli investigation and demanded a probe by an "independent international body".

"Al Jazeera condemns the Israeli occupation forces' reluctance to explicitly admit their crime and attempts to evade the prosecution of the perpetrators," it said in a statement.

On Monday, the senior army officer told reporters that the soldiers were under heavy fire and aimed to hit Abu Akleh because they had mistaken her for a Palestinian militant.

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