JERUSALEM: Israel is to conduct a ballistics test on the bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the Israeli army said on Sunday, a day after the Palestinian Authority handed the bullet to US experts.

Army spokesman Ran Kochav’s comment on army radio came after the PA gave the green light for the Americans, but not the Israelis, to examine the bullet that killed Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

A Palestinian official, who requested anonymity, said the Israeli comment raised questions about whether the PA could “trust the Americans”.

Army’s comment comes a day after Palestinian Authority handed the bullet to US experts

Speaking to army radio, Kochav said: “The test won’t be American, the test will be an Israeli test with an American presence. We are waiting for the results, if we killed her, we’ll take responsibility for it, and will be sorry for it. We are also sorry when people that are not involved are killed by Palestinian gunmen.”

Israel’s army was not immediately available to provide further explanation of Kochav’s remarks, including whether an Israeli ballistics test was already under way.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah have said they expected the test to be conducted at the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American, was wearing a vest marked “Press” and a helmet, was covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin camp in the northern West Bank on May 11 when she was killed.

The official Palestinian investigation found that the Qatar-based television channel’s star reporter was killed after being hit by a bullet just below her helmet.

It found that Abu Akleh was killed with a 5.56 millimetre armour-piercing round fired from a Ruger Mini-14 rifle.

Investigations by the United Nations, as well as several journalistic probes, have found that the shot that killed Abu Akleh was fired by Israeli forces. Despite those findings, Israel has maintained that she may have been hit by stray Palestinian gunfire.

The army has also said “that Ms Abu Akleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier”.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2022

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