Contrary to claims by Israeli officials, there was no fighting taking place in the area where Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier, according to a new video unearthed by an Al Jazeera news team.
Journalist Abu Akleh, 51, was killed by an Israeli soldier on May 11, according to colleagues and witnesses who were present at the scene, while covering a military raid by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
A Palestinian-US citizen, Abu Akleh’s killing by Israeli forces has led to global outrage and widespread calls for an independent investigation.
The clip, which Al Jazeera says it has verified, shows initial quiet with no sounds of fighting, corroborating witness reports that there were no clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters at the time of the shooting, as the Israelis have suggested.
Some people are seen to be talking and laughing in the foreground, with people in the background, including Abu Akleh and some of her colleagues wearing blue press flak jackets, also visible.
New video emerges of moment #ShireenAbuAkleh was shot dead. Significantly, the group is relaxed and no gunfire is apparent as they prepare to work. There are two instances of repeat single shots, not bursts, that appear to come towards them. Warning : distressing content pic.twitter.com/XpkOKFwizc— Tom Bateman (@tombateman) May 19, 2022
Abu Akleh and the other journalists are walking in the direction of where Israeli forces were located, before gunfire shots start ringing out.
Once the shooting starts, people in the foreground start running away from where the Israeli forces were positioned. Abu Akleh can be seen lying in the street after being shot.
On Thursday, an Israeli military official said the Israeli army had potentially identified the rifle from which Abu Akleh may have been shot, but added that they could not be sure unless Palestinian authorities handed over the bullet.
The Palestinians have said they were conducting their own investigation and have refused to turn over the bullet to the Israelis citing a lack of trust based on past experiences.
Israeli authorities initially said Palestinian fighters may had been responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, circulating video of Palestinian men shooting down an alleyway.
The Israeli military said its forces came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. The military said it is “investigating the event and looking into the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen.”
However, researchers from the prominent Israeli human rights group B’Tselem found the spot where the clip was filmed: 300 metres (985 feet) away and with no line of sight to the location where Abu Akleh was shot. Al Jazeera’s Sanad news verification and monitoring unit also conducted an investigation and reached a similar conclusion.
The open-source research group Bellingcat has also supported accounts of Palestinian witnesses present at the scene of the killing, based on their own audio and video analysis.
Separately on Thursday, Israeli media reported that the Israeli army was not planning to investigate Abu Akleh’s death.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel’s Military Police Criminal Investigation Division believes an investigation that treats Israeli soldiers as suspects will lead to opposition within Israeli society.
Shortly after, dozens of United States legislators signed a letter demanding the FBI investigate Abu Akleh’s killing.
Abu Akleh’s family has also urged the US government and international community to step in and ensure an independent probe.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want the territory to form the main part of their future state. Nearly 3 million Palestinians live in the territory under Israeli military rule. Israel has built more than 130 settlements across the West Bank that are home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers, who have full Israeli citizenship.
Israelis have long been critical of Al-Jazeera’s coverage, but authorities generally allow its journalists to operate freely. Another Al-Jazeera reporter, Givara Budeiri, was briefly detained last year during a protest in Jerusalem and treated for a broken hand, which her employer blamed on rough treatment by police.