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Palestinian Authority refuses to hand over bullet that killed Abu Akleh

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The Palestinian Authority rejected Israel’s request to conduct a joint investigation into the “assassination” of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and refused to hand over the bullet that killed her, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh confirmed on Thursday.

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“Israel has requested a joint investigation and to be handed over the bullet that assassinated the journalist Shireen, we refused that, and we affirmed that our investigation would be completed independently,” al-Sheikh said in a tweet.

The official also added that all evidence and witness statements confirm that the Palestinian-American journalist was assassinated by Israeli special units.

“We will inform her family, USA, Qatar and all official authorities and the public of the results of the investigation with high transparency,” al-Sheikh said.

The Palestinian forensics institute said an initial autopsy was inconclusive. Rayan al-Ali, director of the institute, said a deformed bullet was recovered and was being further studied to determine who had fired it.

A veteran Al Jazeera journalist, Abu Akleh was shot and killed by the Israeli army while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

She was a well-known Palestinian female reporter for the broadcaster's Arabic language channel who is also a US citizen. Ali al-Samoudi, another Palestinian journalist, was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in the back.

In video footage of the incident, Abu Akleh can be seen wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word “PRESS.”

Al-Samoudi, her producer, told the Associated Press they were among a group of seven reporters who went to cover the raid early Wednesday. He said they were all wearing protective gear that clearly designated them as reporters and walked past Israeli troops so the soldiers would see them and know that they were there.

“We made sure to walk right in-front of the army patrols so that they can see us, and they saw us, after we went to a road where there were no armed people, no civilians and there were no shooting and no incidents there, we were shocked by the shooting,” al-Samoudi said in a video recorded in the hospital.

He said the first shot missed them, but then a second struck him, and a third killed Abu Akleh. He said there were no militants or other civilians in the area — only the reporters and the army.

He said the military’s suggestion that they were shot by militants was a “complete lie.”

“The occupation is murderous and criminal, they shot us for no reason,” he added. “There were no armed people and we can’t put our lives in danger and say the wrong narrative, the Israeli army is a liar and criminal and despicable.”

Relations between Israeli forces and the foreign media, especially Palestinian journalists, are strained. A number of Palestinian reporters have been wounded by rubber-coated bullets or tear gas while covering demonstrations in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

With Reuters & the Associated Press

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