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Israel says soldier highly likely killed Shireen Abu Aqleh by accident

The Israeli army has said there is a “high possibility” a soldier killed an Al Jazeera journalist in May but that the shooting was accidental and no one will be punished.

Shireen Abu Aqleh was shot dead while covering Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians blamed the killing on Israel, which initially suggested she may have been killed by militant fire, but later said a soldier may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire.

Abu Aqleh, a Palestinian-American journalist, had covered the West Bank for the satellite channel for two decades and was known across the Arab world.

Announcing the results of an investigation into her killing, a senior Israeli military official said the military could not conclusively determine where the fire emanated from, adding that there may have been Palestinian gunmen in the same area as the Israeli soldier.

But he said the soldier shot the journalist “with very high likelihood” and did so by mistake. The official did not explain why witness accounts and videos showed limited militant activity in the area, as well as no gunfire in the vicinity until the barrage that struck Abu Aqleh and injured another reporter.

“He misidentified her,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines. “His reports in real time … absolutely point to a misidentification.”

Abu Aqleh’s family criticised the investigation, saying the army “tried to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility” for the killing.

They said in a statement: “Our family is not surprised by this outcome, since it’s obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed.”

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The family also reiterated their call for an independent US investigation and an inquiry by the international criminal court.

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