News Desk: Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed by unintentional gunfire from Israeli positions, but independent investigators could not reach a definitive conclusion about the origin of the bullet that struck her, the US State Department said yesterday.
Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was killed on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.
The US Security Coordinator (USSC), after summarizing investigations by both the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority, concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions was likely responsible for Abu Akleh's death, the State Department said.
"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," the State Department said in a statement.
In forensic analysis by third-party examiners overseen by the USSC, however, ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged which prevented a clear conclusion as to its origin, the State Department said.
A senior Palestinian official accused Washington of dragging its feet over the incident to protect Israel.
"The truth is clear but the US administration continues to stall in announcing it," Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told Reuters.
"We say Israel killed Shireen Abu Akleh and it has to be held responsible for the crime it has committed."
The death of Abu Akleh, and feuding between the sides over the circumstances, have overshadowed a visit by US President Joe Biden due this month.
UN rights office says its findings suggest Al Jazeera journalist killed by Israeli forces.
The Israeli military said it would continue to investigate the incident and a decision on whether to launch any criminal charges would be made after the operational examination.