Price said that investigators concluded that the bullet which hit Abu Akleh — a longtime correspondent for Al Jazeera news who was shot in the head on May 11 while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin — “was badly damaged,” preventing “a clear conclusion.”
The Palestinian Authority handed over the bullet to the U.S. Security Coordinator on Saturday, complying with a long-standing demand from Israel. Since the incident, Israel has claimed that without the bullet, it would not be able to determine if Abu Akleh had been shot by an Israeli gun or by weapons from armed Palestinians in the area at the time of the shooting.
“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 statement said, referring to a string of Palestinian attacks in Israel in recent months in which a number of the assailants hailed from Jenin and the surrounding area.
IDF spokesman Ran Kochav had told Israeli radio station 103fm on Sunday that it would announce if the bullet, which had been delivered to them by the Americans, matched one of its guns. He said that Israel invited a representative of the Palestinians to take part in the joint investigation, but “they refused, and instead deferred to the American team.”
Kochav said on the day of Abu Akleh’s killing that it was “likely” that she was killed by armed Palestinians before the military later backtracked and conceded that it was possible that an Israeli sniper could have been responsible.
The investigation, which the Israeli army said has been stalled due to the Palestinian refusal to transfer the bullet, had been looming over President Biden’s July 13-16 visit to the Middle East, his first as president.