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The PA sticks to the lie, when the facts don’t fit its narrative!

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

To the PA’s dismay, following a thorough investigation, the US concluded yesterday [July 4, 2022], that it was unable to “reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed” Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. 

Since the findings of the impartial US investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, don’t suit the Palestinian Authority, the PA and its leaders are rejecting the report, vowing to continue their baseless libel and to pursue Israel in the International Criminal Court. 

From day one, despite lacking any evidence and even ignoring the initial findings of the PA’s own pathologist, the PA has blamed Israel for the intentional killing of Abu Akleh.  

While initially refusing to cooperate, the PA finally agreed to hand over the bullet it claims was responsible for the death of Abu Akleh to the US investigative team.  

As the findings of the US investigation undermine the PA’s libel against Israel, the PA has opted to ignore the US conclusions and stick with their own lie, claiming there is “conclusive evidence” Israel intentionally assassinated Abu Akleh. 

Possibly influenced by the upcoming visit of US President Biden, while the PA leaders and functionaries all rejected the US findings, they appear to have been intentionally cautious not to berate the US administration itself.   

Responding to the report, PA Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, held Israel fully responsible for the killing of Abu Akleh: 

“We will not accept under any circumstances the manipulation of the outcomes of Palestinian investigations, and will continue the procedures on her assassination in international courts, particularly the International Criminal Court, since Israel is responsible for her killing and must bear the consequences.” 

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs similarly rejected the US findings, saying that they were vague and politicized. The statement went further, claiming that the findings of the investigation would “impact on the safety of journalists worldwide”: 

“No amount of vagueness or politicization can exonerate the killers, whitewash the crime, or hide the truth… This whitewashing will only further institutionalize Israel's entrenched impunity, continue to deny the Palestinian people any justice, and threaten the safety and lives of journalists in Palestine. It will also have a negative impact on the safety of journalists worldwide.” 

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

Claiming that “because Palestinian and international facts confirm without doubt the responsibility of the Israeli army,” the statement of the ministry added that the PA: 

“Will continue undeterred with its efforts at the international level, including the International Criminal Court, to hold those who ordered and provide cover for this established trend of criminality accountable for their crimes.” 

 [WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022]

Turning to his Twitter account, the Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hussein Al-Sheikh, responded to the report, tweeting:  

[Twitter account of Hussein Al-Sheikh, July 4, 2022] 

The PA’s Public Prosecutor, who was responsible for conducting the PA’s investigation of the killing, was particularly critical of the US report, claiming that the Prosecution’s own findings that Israel directly targeted Abu Akleh was “based on a set of irrefutable evidence, which included technical reports, examinations and eyewitnesses' testimonies”:  

“The findings of the Public Prosecution's investigations in the case of the assassination of the martyr Shireen Abu Akleh, which were previously announced, were based on a set of irrefutable evidence, which included technical reports, examinations and eyewitnesses' testimonies that conclusively determined that the assassination of the martyr Shireen Abu Akleh was a direct targeting by a member of the Israeli occupation army stationed in the area, and it proved indisputably that there were no manifestations or armed confrontations at the time and place of the crime.” 

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

Stressing that he had shared his evidence with the US authorities, the Prosecutor added:  

“The Public Prosecution conducted its investigations independently and informed the American side of the content of the results that were reached since the martyr holds US citizenship.”  

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

Explaining the framework for the US investigation the Prosecutor said:  

“The US side has conducted a separate investigation since the crime occurred, and to complete their investigation, the ballistic was turned over to them for 24 hours to conduct a technical examination by American experts brought specially for this purpose following an official request submitted by the US administration. Their request was approved by the competent authorities in the State of Palestine, as previously announced, and the projectile was duly returned to the Public Prosecution, and it was confirmed through the Palestinian technical experts that it was returned in the same condition in which it was handed over.” 

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

Rejecting the US finding that “ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion,” the Prosecutor responded: 

“With regard to what the American side stated regarding the results of the technical examination of the presence of severe damage to the bullet that prevented reaching a clear conclusion, the Public Prosecution confirms that this is not true and was surprised by the statement since the technical reports of Public Prosecution confirm that the condition of the projectile could be matched to the weapon used.” 

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

Regarding the US finding that there was “no reason to believe that this [the killing of Abu Akleh] was intentional,” the Prosecutor said:  

“Additionally, the fact that the targeting of the martyr Abu Akleh, according to the conclusive evidence, was intentional, and it is unacceptable what was stated by the American side that there were no reasons indicating that the targeting was intentional, especially since they were aware of the overall investigations of the Public Prosecution that confirmed the issue of a premeditated killing.”  

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

Finally, the PA Prosecutor added that the PA is working to “complete our legal procedures to prosecute Israel before international courts”:  

“The competent authority to conduct the investigation legally is the Palestinian Public Prosecution, and any results of investigations conducted by any other bodies are not legally binding. Based on the investigations, Israel bears full responsibility for the deliberate assassination of the Palestinian martyr Shireen Abu Akleh, and we will work to complete our legal procedures to prosecute Israel before international courts.” 

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate also added their response saying “that the report of the American experts on the killing of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli occupation forces is biased and unprofessional.” According to their statement, the Journalists Syndicate said:  

"The experts deviated from their professional role to come up with a political security report aimed at evading Israel's responsibility for targeting Shireen Abu Akleh and her deliberate assassination so that the occupation would not be held accountable for its crime against a Palestinian journalist, in addition to being an American citizen." 

[WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4, 2022] 

Affirming its confidence in the findings of the PA Prosecutor, the syndicate added that, “it is proceeding to the end with the partners, led by the International Federation of Journalists, in its judicial procedures at the International Criminal Court against the Israeli army commanders, its government and the perpetrators of the crime so that they receive their punishment in accordance with international law.” [WAFA, English edition, official PA news agency, July 4 2022] 

While the US announcement say that “gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death,” it is unclear what factual basis the team relied upon. Furthermore, by using the word “likely” the investigative team clear sought to leave room to potentially conclude that other actors, such as the Palestinian terrorists shooting at the IDF soldiers, were responsible for Abu Akleh’s death.   

The following is the text of the announcement by US State Department Spokesman, Ned Price, regarding the US investigation:  

“After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion. 

In addition to the forensic and ballistic analysis, the USSC was granted full access to both Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority (PA) investigations over the last several weeks. By summarizing both investigations, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.  The USSC found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel. 

The United States appreciates and continues to encourage cooperation between Israel and the PA in this important case. We will remain engaged with Israel and the PA on next steps and urge accountability. We again offer our deepest condolences to the Abu Akleh family.” 

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