Israel calls for joint investigation with Palestinians after Al Jazeera journalist killed in West bank

Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in Jenin earlier today


Israeli officials have called for a joint investigation into the circumstances around the death of an Al Jazeera journalist in a West Bank town earlier today.

Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Al Jazeera correspondent for Israel and the West Bank was killed earlier today in Jenin while wearing a flak jacket marked ‘PRESS’.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Israel had offered to launch a joint investigation into the killing.

“Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth,” he said on Twitter.

“Israel's security forces will continue to operate wherever necessary to prevent terrorism and the murder of Israelis.”

Palestinian leadership have reportedly already rejected the proposal for a joint investigation however, Kan correspondent Amichai Stein reported.

Ali al-Samoudi, an Al Jazeera reporter shot and wounded at the scene, claimed Israeli forces shot and killed Ms Akleh “in cold blood”. 

He said: “We were going to film the Israeli army raid, and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming.”

There were no Palestinian fighters at the scene, he added.

Footage released by Israel’s Foreign Ministry appears to contradict that account.

Palestinian militants are seen firing a rifle down a narrow ally in a residential area, before someone shouts: "They've hit one, they've hit a soldier, he's laying on the ground." 

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said no IDF soldiers were injured in Jenin this morning.

They claimed: “Palestinian terrorists, firing indiscriminately, are likely to have hit Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “According to the information we have gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians — who were firing indiscriminately at the time — were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist.”

An IDF spokesperson said: "As part of the activity in the Jenin refugee camp, suspects fired heavily at the force and threw explosives. The force responded by firing...

"The possibility that journalists were injured is being investigated, possibly by Palestinian armed gunfire."

Al Jazeera and other Palestinian sources have sought to pin the blame for Ms Akleh’s death firmly on Israel. 

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said he holds Israeli forces "fully responsible" for the killing.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health, announcing the shooting on Facebook, condemned the “aggression of the Israeli occupation in Jenin”.

Al Jazeera called upon the international community to: “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague, Shireen Abu Akleh.”

The American ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, joined calls for an investigation into the death of Ms Akleh, who held US citizenship.

He said: “Very sad to learn of the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh…

“I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death and the injury of at least one other journalist today in Jenin.”

The UK's ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, joined the call for an inquiry, saying: "I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of Al Jazeera’s [Shireen Abu Akleh] in Jenin this morning.

"Journalists must be allowed to work safely and freely. I urge a rapid, thorough and transparent investigation."

Ms Akleh had worked for Al Jazeera’s Arabic language service since 1997.

Paying tribute to his colleague, Al Jazeera journalist Tamer Mishal said she was “professional and persevering” to the end.

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