Palestinians May Try to Damage Evidence Related to Reporter’s Death, Israeli Sources Warn
Israeli officials told American and international counterparts that there is a suspicion that Palestinian authorities are trying to destroy or damage evidence related to the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, in order to make it impossible to determine who shot her, Yedioth Achronot reported on Thursday.
Israel is seeking a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority into the death of the Palestinian-American journalist, who was killed while covering an Israeli counter-terrorism operation on Wednesday in the Palestinian city of Jenin, from which several Palestinian terrorist attacks have been launched in recent weeks.
The PA has rejected this request and repeatedly blamed Israeli forces for Abu Akleh’s death. Israeli officials have disputed this, saying the Palestinian-American journalist may have been hit by Palestinian gunfire, and that a forensic exam of the bullet recovered from her body is necessary to determine culpability.
Israeli officials have described the behavior of the Palestinian Authority as absurd, Yedioth Achronot reported. The assessment in Israel is that while there will not be an additional autopsy, the PA may ultimately agree to a joint probe amid US pressure, the outlet continued. While the PA cannot afford an overt display of cooperation with Israel, in light of Palestinian public opinion towards the PA, there is a chance it may ultimately relent in light of US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the region and their need for US funding.
While it remains unclear who shot Abu Akleh, the Israeli military is currently investigating the possibility that one of its bullets hit the journalist, Israel’s Channel 12 reported Thursday evening, citing military sources. The main incident under review is an exchange of fire that occurred between Israeli and Palestinian forces some 150 meters (500 feet) from where the journalist was shot. The IDF said that if Abu Akleh was hit by the Israeli side, it would have been in the context of this event.