Jerusalem – The bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shirin Abu Akleh on Wednesday has become a hotbed of contention in rival Israeli-Palestinian efforts to investigate who shot her.
Palestinian Authorities on Thursday rejected a request to allow Israeli officials to examine the bullet that killed Miss. Abu Akleh, a prominent reporter for Al Jazeera, who was killed in the occupied West Bank during the Israeli attack.
The authority said it would investigate Ms. Abu Akleh’s death independently, rejecting Israel’s calls for a joint investigation and the bullet to be evaluated in an Israeli laboratory under international supervision.
Palestinian officials and witnesses have accused Israeli soldiers of killing the woman. Abu Akleh, rejecting Israeli allegations that the journalist may have been hit by Palestinian fire during a shootout in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank.
Palestinian leaders said Israel could not be trusted to investigate the killing, while Israeli officials said Palestinians refused to provide the bullet to hide the truth.
The confrontation came as thousands of Palestinians from all walks of life gathered in the courtyard of the Palestinian Authority’s presidential headquarters on Thursday to praise and say goodbye to an innovative journalist. The mourners included those who worked with Ms. Abu Akleh, those she interviewed and those whose homes she entered through the television screen. Palestinian Christian and Muslim clerics also gathered.
“This crime cannot go unpunished,” said Mahmoud Abbas, president of the government, in front of her coffin.
“We reject a joint investigation with the Israeli state because it committed the crime and because we do not trust them and we will immediately go to the International Criminal Court to prosecute the criminals,” he added.
As mourners followed her coffin from the courtyard, many chanted her name, while others shared memories of the lady. Abu Aqla – even from afar.
“When we saw Shirin killed, we all felt it in every Palestinian home,” said Turaya Elayan, a 66-year-old Ramallah resident. “The bullet didn’t just kill Shiren – the bullet killed some of us. She was a symbol and lived in all our homes.
The bullet became the focus of two rival stories about the circumstances of her death. Witnesses said Ms. Abu Akleh was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in an area of Jenin where there were no Palestinian armed men. But Israeli military officials said she was shot during a shootout between Israelis and Palestinians and that she was near a Palestinian armed with an assault rifle.
Video from the scene does not show the moment when the bullet hit Ms. Abu Akleh or who shot him.
Both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian extremists involved in the clashes in Jenin carried M16 assault rifles, weapons that use the same 5.56-millimeter bullets, Israeli officials said.
Although this fact may complicate efforts to determine who fired the fatal shot, a bullet can still be compared to the gun that fired it.
Each bullet has microscopic marks specific to the weapon that fired it, such as a signature, said Lior Nadivi, an Israeli forensic ballistics expert.
This means that the bullet may reveal whether or not it was fired from a rifle used by an Israeli soldier involved in the attack, according to Mr. He also surprised two Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian Authority performed an initial autopsy on Ms. Abu Akleh’s body, but his findings have not yet been published. A spokeswoman for the Palestinian Authority’s prosecutor’s office said she was still awaiting the results of forensic bullet tests.
But Mr Nadivi, a former firearms inspector at the Israeli police’s weapons laboratory, said he did not believe the Palestinian Authority had the ability to carry out such an inspection. Only the Israelis could confirm or deny whether one of their rifles was the source of the fatal fire, sir. said Nadivi.
A senior Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with military rules, said the Israeli army was ready to evaluate the weapons it used in the attack if given a bullet.
Israeli officials have said they would like to examine the bullet in the presence of a representative of the Palestinian Authority and the United States.
But Israeli and Palestinian rights activists were skeptical that Israel would be investigated rigorously, based on its experience.
“The bullet can only help if the soldiers surrender their weapons immediately,” said Michael Sfard, a legal adviser to Yesh Dean, a rights group investigating Israeli abuses in the West Bank. “Otherwise, they could be manipulating their weapons.”
Mr Sfard also said there were many other ways in which Israel could investigate the shooting without a bullet – including by watching videos recorded by Israeli military drones that usually accompany Israeli soldiers during such attacks.
“The bottom line is that military justice is a miracle,” he said. Said Sfard. “They happen once on a blue moon, but we haven’t had one in a very long time.”
An Israeli military official said two hours after the shooting, the military brought in all the soldiers who were at the scene for questioning and collected all the video footage from the cameras they used during the attack.
In addition, Israeli officials, such as the Palestinian Authority, have revealed few details of their investigation.
A veteran and respected journalist for Al Jazeera, a news channel owned by Qatar, Ms. Abu Akleh was shot dead after arriving in Jenin to cover clashes between Palestinian extremists and the Israeli military. Israeli soldiers have conducted regular raids on Jenin from March, after several fatal attacks on Palestinian Israelis in the area.
She and several other journalists at the scene were wearing blue bulletproof vests and helmets with the words “Press”, and her colleagues believe that she was deliberately targeted. Israeli officials said she may have been killed in crossfire by either Palestinian or Israeli forces.
At her funeral procession on Thursday, many people held up posters with a picture of the lady. Abu Aqlah wore a blue press vest – much like the one he wore when he was shot – and the words “Reflection will continue.”
As the coffin with her body was carried through Ramallah, people chanted, “With our souls, with our blood, we are sacrificing for you, Shirin.”
One woman tried to shout a more nationalist chant: “With our souls, with our blood, we are sacrificing ourselves for you, Palestine.” But no one else got involved.
This moment was for Mrs. Abu Akleh.
Mr. Abbas awarded her the Star of Jerusalem, also known as the Star of Quds. One of the highest honors the Palestinian president can give is traditionally awarded to ministers, ambassadors and members of parliament.
He described the lady. Abu Aqlah as a “martyr for truth and free speech.”
After his speech, madam. Abu Akle’s coffin was taken to an ambulance to be taken to Jerusalem for a family funeral on Friday. She must be buried in a Christian cemetery, next to her mother and close to her father.
6-year-old Salma Didin was in the crowd in Ramallah. She was sitting on her uncle’s shoulder, dressed in a blue dress with dirt, holding a poster of the lady. Abu Akleh and the recitation of some of the chants.
When asked why she wanted to be present, she said in a voice barely audible over the chants, “Because Shiren was a martyr.”
Salma’s uncle, 30-year-old Mahmoud Husseini, expanded his spirits.
“We are here in solidarity with Shiren,” he said. “She is the daughter of the nation. “She was always in danger just to tell stories to the Palestinians.
Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem and Raja Abdulrahim from Ramallah, West Bank. Did Yazbek contribute to reports from Nazareth, Israel, and Mira Novek from Jerusalem.