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Israel to test the bullet that killed American-Palestinian Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh

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Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera reporter who was shot dead in the West Bank in May. Photo: Al Jazeera

Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera reporter who was shot dead in the West Bank in May. Photo: Al Jazeera

Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera reporter who was shot dead in the West Bank in May. Photo: Al Jazeera

The Israeli government said yesterday it would test a bullet that killed a Palestinian-American journalist to determine whether one of its soldiers shot her and said a US observer would be present.

Palestinian officials, who on Saturday handed over the bullet to a US security coordinator, said they had been assured that Israel would not take part in the ballistics.

Washington has yet to comment on the matter. 

The death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11 during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, and feuding between the sides as to the circumstances, has overshadowed a visit to the region  by US president Joe Biden scheduled this  month.

Palestinians say the Israeli military deliberately killed Abu Akleh. Israel denies this, saying she may have been hit by errant army fire or by a bullet from one of the Palestinian gunmen who were clashing with its forces at the scene.

In a separate incident, a 17-year-old Palestinian died in hospital after being shot late on Saturday by Israeli soldiers in clash in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. An Israeli army spokesperson said the report was being looked into.

“The (ballistic) test (of the bullet that killed Ms Abu Akleh) will not be American. The test will be an Israeli test, with an American presence throughout,” said Israeli military spokesman Brigadier-General Ran Kochav.

“In the coming days or hours it will become clear whether it was even us who killed her, accidentally, or whether it was the Palestinian gunmen,” he told Army Radio. “If we killed her, we will take responsibility and feel regret for what happened.”

Akram al-Khatib, general prosecutor for the Palestinian Authority, said the test would take place at the US Embassy in Jerusalem and that “the Israeli side will not take part”.

A US embassy spokesperson said: “We don’t have anything new at this time.”

Israel has said the person who fired the bullet could only be determined by matching it to a gun in a forensic laboratory. Such testing usually requires finding markings on the bullet left by the unique barrel rifling of the gun it was fired from. 

The Israeli military previously said one soldier could have been in a position to fire the fatal shot, suggesting it might only consider that soldier’s rifle.

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