Israel shares video showing Palestinian did not kill journalist

An effort of Israeli officials will use social media evidence to blame Palestinian activists for the shooting death of a journalist in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and unfolded within hours, as an in-depth analysis of video shared by Israel showed that a Palestinian sniper was shooting in the direction of Israeli soldiers, not the journalist.

Immediately after the tragic murder of Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent Palestinian American journalist who was shot while covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in Jenin, three other journalists accompanying her, including a colleague who was shot and another who tried to save her, said that the group had come under fire from Israeli soldiers.

In response, a chorus of senior Israeli officials insisted it was “likely” the journalist was killed by Palestinian militants, who exchanged fire with Israeli soldiers during the raid.

To support this case, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennettthe israeli foreign ministryand the Israeli Embassy in Washington all shared a video on social media showing a Palestinian gunman opening fire during the raid.

The edited and captioned video, which was originally posted by Palestinian activists, included a comment from an unseen person who said, in Arabic, that the activists shot at a soldier who was “lying on the ground”.

Israeli officials called this evidence that Palestinian militants may have mistaken Abu Akleh, a well-known Al Jazeera correspondent who wore a blue helmet and body armor labeled “press”, for an Israeli soldier.

However, an investigation of the video by a local researcher for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem showed that the activist had fired into an alley of the densely populated refugee camp that was nowhere near the entrance to the camp where Abu Akleh and other journalists had been pinned down by gunfire.

Working with visual clues from the harrowing video of Abou Akleh’s colleagues and bystanders attempting to save her, and advice from an Agence France-Presse correspondent at the scene, geolocation experts confirmed that the correspondent from Al Jazeera was at the edge of the camp, about a six-minute walk from where the activist was recorded shooting in an alley.

B’Tselem confirmed the geolocation of Abou Akleh’s position, and that of the militant, and plotted them on a map of the camp. Together with the video recorded by the B’Tselem researcher, the map shows that it was impossible for the bullets fired by this shooter to have reached the journalist, since he fired in an alley of a settlement of the camp which was around two blocks from the street where Abu Akleh was standing when she was shot.

The relative positions of a Palestinian gunman and journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin, plotted on a map by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group that works with Palestinian researchers to document abuses in territories occupied by Israel.

As English Al Jazeera producer Linah Alsaafin Noteda video clip of the Abu Akleh rescue effort appeared to show anyone approaching her being shot at, suggesting the group of journalists were under deliberate attack and not just indiscriminate fire .

Later Wednesday, after B’Tselem’s investigation showed that the bullets fired by the Palestinian militant in the video released by Israel could not have hit Abu Akleh, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff , General Aviv Kochavi, said in a statement that it was not yet possible to know with certainty who shot Abu Akleh, expressed regret for his death and ordered an investigation. This, several activists noted, was quite different from an earlier statement by an Israeli military spokesman who said the journalists who had been shot were “armed with cameras.”

The Israeli army later released footage from body cameras taken during the raid, apparently to illustrate that its forces had come under fire from Palestinian militants in the camp.

But when this body camera video, recorded during the raid, is compared to video recorded by the B’Tselem researcher later that day, the Israeli footage also serves to confirm that the Israeli soldiers were at the end of the day. driveway that the Palestinian militant had been filmed shooting. Watching the two clips side by side also reveals that when the Israeli soldiers withdrew from this alley, they emerged into the same street where Abu Akleh was standing when she was shot.

Updated: May 13, 2022
This article has been updated to add a side-by-side map and video comparison of footage recorded by an Israeli soldier during a raid on a refugee camp in Jenin on May 11 and footage recorded immediately after the raid by a Human rights activist.