CNN claims Israel killed Abu Akleh in deliberate attack; IDF rejects report

Salim Awad, a Jenin resident who filmed the incident, told CNN that there were no armed Palestinians in the area.

 Shireen Abu Akleh (photo credit: AL JAZEERA)
Shireen Abu Akleh
(photo credit: AL JAZEERA)

Evidence suggests that Al Jazeera's Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in a targeted attack by Israeli troops in Jenin, according to a new report from CNN published Tuesday evening.

Abu Akleh, 51, from Beit Hanina in northeastern Jerusalem, was shot in the head while covering an IDF raid in the West Bank city on May 11.

The IDF said it had entered the Jenin refugee camp on the outskirts of Burkin to detain terrorist suspects and was met by “widespread and uncontrolled gunfire” and improvised explosive devices. Abu Akleh was killed toward the end of the raid.

Condemnations quickly came out against Israel for her death, which IDF Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi on Monday said the military must fully investigate.

However, she noted that the Palestinians’ refusal to allow Israel access to the bullet that killed Abu Akleh “leaves doubt regarding the circumstances of her death.”

 Palestinians bid farewell to Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during a live fire exchange between Palestinians and IDF in Jenin, in Ramallah in the West Bank May 12, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) Palestinians bid farewell to Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during a live fire exchange between Palestinians and IDF in Jenin, in Ramallah in the West Bank May 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Witness accounts

Salim Awad, a Jenin resident who filmed the incident, told CNN that there were no armed Palestinians in the area.

"There was no conflict or confrontations at all. We were about 10 guys, give or take, walking around, laughing and joking with the journalists," he told the news network. "We were not afraid of anything. We didn't expect that anything would happen, because when we saw journalists around, we thought it'd be a safe area."

Instead, he claimed that shots were fired at Abu Akleh and three other journalists as they approached IDF vehicles.

“They were shooting directly at the journalists.”

Jamal Huwail

Another individual at the scene, Jamal Huwail, a professor at Jenin's Arab American University and a former Fatah lawmaker who helped move Abu Akleh's body, told CNN that "They were shooting directly at the journalists."

Israeli reactions

Israel has denied intentionally shooting Abu Akleh. The IDF responded to the CNN report early Wednesday morning:

“The claim that the shooting was intentional has no basis.”

IDF

"The IDF has been investigating the circumstances of the reporter's death in a thorough manner since the incident. The interim investigation revealed it was not possible to determine the source of the shooting," it said in a statement. "The claim that the shooting was intentional has no basis."

"CNN's claims that the IDF intentionally shot journalist Shireen abu Akleh have no basis," said Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll. "The IDF acts in Jenin only to prevent terrorism against Israel's citizens. This report is filled with inaccuracies and unreliable testimonies. We once again call on the Palestinians to cooperate with Israel in the investigation of the incident, but they continue to refuse. What do they have to hide?"

This is a developing story.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.