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Bullet is focus of dueling investigations in Palestinian journalist’s killing

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A picture taken from a drone shows a sand sculpture on a beach in Gaza City dedicated to Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh who was killed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: The bullet that killed Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Wednesday has become a central point of contention in the competing efforts by Israelis and Palestinians to investigate who shot her.

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday declined a request to let Israeli officials examine the bullet that killed Abu Akleh, a prominent reporter for Al-Jazeera who was killed in the occupied West Bank during an Israeli raid.

The authority said it would investigate Abu Akleh’s death independently, rejecting Israeli calls for a joint inquiry and for the bullet to be assessed in an Israeli laboratory under international supervision.

Palestinian officials and witnesses accused Israeli soldiers of killing Abu Akleh, dismissing Israeli claims that the journalist may have been hit by Palestinian fire during a shootout in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank.

Palestinian leaders said that Israel could not be trusted to investigate the killing, while Israeli officials said that the Palestinians had refused to provide the bullet in order to hide the truth. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants involved in the Jenin clashes were carrying M16 assault rifles, guns that use the same 5.56 mm bullets, Israeli officials said.

While that fact could complicate efforts to determine who fired the fatal shot, a bullet can still be matched to the gun that fired it.

Each bullet bears microscopic marks specific to the weapon that discharged it, like a signature, said Lior Nadivi, an Israeli forensic ballistics expert. That means the bullet could reveal whether or not it was fired from a rifle used by an Israeli soldier involved in the raid, according to Nadivi and two Israeli military officials.

Palestinian officials have conducted an initial autopsy of Abu Akleh’s body but have yet to release its findings. A spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority’s public prosecutor’s office said that it was still awaiting the results of the forensic tests on the bullet.

But Nadivi, a former firearms examiner in the Israeli police weapons laboratory, said he did not believe the Palestinian Authority had the capability to carry out such an examination. Only the Israelis could confirm or rule out whether one of their rifles was the source of the fatal fire, Nadivi said. – THE STATESMAN

Monday, May 16, 2022 – 01:00

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