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Justice for Shireen banner

A woman drapes a keffiyeh on a banner calling for justice for slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a rally to mark Nakba at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 15, 2022. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Probe Shows Israeli Killing of Journalist 'Deliberate' as Family Turns to ICC

"Our family shouldn't have to wait another day for justice," said the brother of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American Al Jazeera reporter shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in May.

Brett Wilkins

The results of an independent probe showing that Israeli forces intentionally shot Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh were released Tuesday, the same day that relatives of the slain Palestinian-American journalist filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court demanding justice for her killing.

"There is no mystery regarding what happened to Shireen except for the actual name and identity of her killer."

The investigation, which was a joint effort between London-based Forensic Architecture and the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, disproves Israeli claims that Abu Akleh was shot by accident on May 11. It calls the 51-year-old reporter's death an "extrajudicial killing" and seeks "legal accountability for the deliberate and repeated targeting of Shireen and her colleagues" by Israeli occupation forces.

"We've been working every day since the day that Shireen was killed... on this, to create a very precise forensic analysis of all circumstances of this shooting," Forensic Architecture lead investigator Omar Ferwati told Al Jazeera.

"We are creating, for the first time, a spatial reconstruction and analysis through footage and photographic documentation of the site that transforms the site into a model that can be measured to the millimeter," he continued.

"With... the unseen before footage, we can locate the precise position of the journalists including Shireen Abu Akleh throughout the incident of the shooting at them," Ferwati added, "as well as their position for the first time to precisely tell you exactly where the Israeli occupation forces were and where they shot out of. We actually know the hole that they shot out of."

Abu Akleh—known widely as the "voice of Palestine"—and other journalists were covering an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raid on Jenin in the illegally occupied West Bank when she was killed. Al Jazeera producer Ali Samodi was shot in the back but survived.

After initially trying to deny that its forces killed Abu Akleh, Israel said earlier this month that there is a "high possibility" that the journalist was "accidentally hit" by army fire. Israeli officials declined to launch a criminal probe of the killing.

The new investigation found evidence that an Israeli sniper repeatedly shot at Abu Akleh—who was wearing a helmet and flak vest clearly identifying her as a journalist—and for two minutes also fired at anyone who attempted to come to her aid.

According to Al Jazeera:

The probe examined the Israeli sniper's precise angle of fire, and concluded that the sniper was able to clearly tell that there were journalists in the area. It also ruled out the possibility of confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Jenin at the time of the attack.

According to the investigation, for which Al Jazeera provided material, the Israeli sniper shot for two minutes, and deliberately targeted those who tried to rescue Abu Akleh. The sniper shot three times, releasing six bullets the first time, then after eight seconds, seven more. One of these bullets was the one that killed Abu Akleh, hitting her just under her helmet.

Also on Tuesday, Abu Akleh's relatives submitted an official complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, while vowing to do everything they can to ensure accountability for her killers.

"Our family shouldn't have to wait another day for justice," brother Anton Abu Akleh said during a press conference outside ICC headquarters. "That's why, in addition to our call for a U.S. investigation, we are also calling on the International Criminal Court to begin the process for holding the killers accountable."

Investigations by international media outlets, rights groups, the United Nations Human Rights Office, and others concluded that the reporter was killed by Israeli fire. The Biden administration said in July that Abu Akleh was "likely" but unintentionally shot by an Israeli soldier, a move critics condemned as a "whitewash."

"It seems that the reason her case has not been a priority for the U.S. government is because of who she was and who she was killed by," Anton Abu Akleh said. "There is no mystery regarding what happened to Shireen except for the actual name and identity of her killer."

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