Shireen Abu Akleh was well-known for her reporting for Al Jazeera. Photo: Al Jazeera/AP

Column: Who Are the War Criminals?

We must wonder what Lina Abu Akleh refers to when she charges: “We don’t expect war criminals to investigate their own crimes.”

Or when Nabil Abu Rdeneh claims all evidence proves that “Israel is the culprit, that it killed Shireen, and it must be held responsible for its crime.”

Palestinian hypocrisy here is stark as Israel itself compounds the speculation game surrounding the death of Shireen Abu Akleh in Israel’s eastern territory last May 11. So far, nobody can establish how Abu Akleh died when she was reporting on a military confrontation in the northern West Bank town of Jenin. All fingers have pointed to the Israeli military, but nothing has been proven.

It sounds likely that an Israeli soldier shot her, but the possibility yet exists that a Palestinian terrorist could have done this.

As The New York Times reports, the Israel Defense Forces conceded for the first time on Monday that an Israeli soldier probably shot her accidentally as it released this statement: “There is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by I.D.F. gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward I.D.F. soldiers.”

I.D.F. officials said they were sure that no Israeli soldier deliberately fired toward a reporter or civilian, and they will not prosecute any Israeli soldier who might have been involved.

Again, speculation. Neither the Palestinians nor the American government could prove anything and instead offered speculation. It gets frustrating, and yet Palestinian officials and family members have reached conclusions that one or more Israeli soldiers murdered her.

That possibility should not be readily dismissed, but if it happened that way it must be proven. Unless that comes about, everyone should shut up.

They are still mouthing off as Lina Abu Akleh, the journalist’s niece, charged that “we don’t expect war criminals to investigate their own crimes.”

War criminals? Like the three Palestinian gunmen who wounded five soldiers and their civilian driver in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley the day before when the terrorists tossed explosives at the vehicle and blocked it before opening fire with automatic weapons? Or the hordes of terrorists who sneak into Israeli cities to murder and wound Israelis and others?

What of the terrorist groups in Gaza who fire rockets into Israel with no provocation?

“We want the U.S. to take action,” the niece continued. “This has been our call since day one, for the U.S. to carry out an independent and credible investigation.”

Her attitude ignores this I.D.F. statement: “It is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit Ms. Abu Akleh.”

Nabil Abu Rdeneh’s accusation that “Israel killed Shireen,” as reported by the Associated Press, might be believable if the Palestinian Authority led by his boss, President Mahmoud Abbas, had provided all parties the chance to inspect the bullet that killed her soon after the incident.

They waited weeks before turning over the bullet to the American government, and by then it was too damaged to determine who fired it.

That would provide Lina Abu Akleh ample reason to complain about the competence, or lack thereof, of the Palestinian Authority’s investigation.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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