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CNN Claims IDF Targeted Al Jazeera Journalist

May 25, 2022

by: Ilse Strauss

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Wednesday, 25 May 2022 | In an accusation Israel slammed as “entirely unfounded,” CNN claimed yesterday that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deliberately targeted and killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in a firefight between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin on May 11. The network said it came to this conclusion after conducting its own inquiry into the incident.

Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian–American duel citizen, died from a bullet wound to the head while covering an Israeli counterterror raid in Jenin, a Palestinian-governed city in northern Samaria that has been at the heart of recent roiling tensions in Judea and Samaria—also known as the so-called West Bank.

Akleh’s death sparked a battle of narratives. The Palestinians blame Israel, slamming the incident as “deliberate,” “cold-blooded murder.” Israel immediately launched a full investigation, involving the army’s General Staff and the entire chain of command, including Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

The results of the IDF’s preliminary probe narrowed down the possibilities of what happened. Akleh might have been killed by a Palestinian gunman firing indiscriminately, hoping to hit Israeli soldiers and striking her instead. Alternatively, she might have been hit by an Israeli soldier in a military vehicle shooting through a “designated firing hole” at a Palestinian gunman firing at the vehicle. In fact, the IDF said last week that it may have identified the soldier’s gun that fired the bullet that killed Akleh.

There’s one problem, though. The Palestinian Authority (PA) took control of Akleh’s body, performed an autopsy before her burial, retains the bullet and staunchly refuses Israel’s calls for a joint investigation. So unless the PA turns over the bullet that killed Akleh to Israeli investigators for analysis, it’s impossible to be sure who fired it.

Now CNN weighed in, adding its voice to the Palestinian narrative in an article entitled “‘They Were Shooting Directly at the Journalists:’ New Evidence Suggests Shireen Abu Akleh Was Killed in Targeted Attack by Israeli Forces.”

What basis does CNN have for this blunt accusation? According to the network, it consulted with so-called experts to come to the conclusion.

First, forensic audio experts who examined audio from the incident allegedly found that the shot that killed Akleh was fired from approximately 200 meters (656 ft.) away—the apparent distance between the IDF forces and the journalist, the Times of Israel reported.

Second, CNN asked Chris Cobb-Smit—whom the article identifies as a security consultant, British army veteran and apparently also a firearms expert—to examine photos of markings left on a tree where Akleh was standing when the bullet struck her, the Times of Israel explains.

Cobb-Smit believes the bullet markings show that the fire that killed Akleh came in controlled, targeted shots as opposed to stray bullets.

“The number of strike marks on the tree where Shireen was standing proves this wasn’t a random shot; she was targeted,” CNN quoted Cobb-Smit as saying. The Palestinian gunfire on the other hand, he said, shows “random sprays.”

“From the strike marks on the tree, it appears that the shots, one of which hit Shireen, came from down the street from the direction of the IDF troops. The relatively tight grouping of the rounds indicate[s] Shireen was intentionally targeted with aimed shots and not the victim of random or stray fire,” he charged.

The IDF dismissed the accusation as false and baseless. “In no way would the IDF ever target a civilian, especially a member of the press,” an unnamed senior Israeli security official told CNN, the Times of Israel reported.

The IDF also released a statement late yesterday in response to the CNN article, saying, “The claim that the gunfire was aimed [at Akleh] is entirely unfounded.”

The statement explained that the military had launched a thorough investigation into the incident but was unable to identify the shooter with certainty without access to the bullet. The IDF again called on the PA to make the bullet available for examination.

In the two weeks since Akleh was killed, a number of news outlets and research groups have launched their own investigations. Yet since these probes are often based on video clips, audio recordings and photos taken in the area during the incident, examining the scene and reconstructing the episode after the fact and the accounts of those around Akleh, the findings are inconclusive.

In fact, as long as the PA refuses to share crucial evidence, a definitive answer is unlikely. And perhaps that is exactly what the PA wants. With reports like that of CNN circulating and turning public opinion against Israel, who needs an actual guilty verdict?

Posted on May 25, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 25, 2022)

Photo Credit: CNN/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

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