JERUSALEM (AP) – The Al Jazeera news network has published an image of the bullet that it says killed its veteran reporter Shireen Abu Akleh while she was covering an Israeli military operation in the occupied West Bank last month.
It identified the bullet as a US-made 5.56mm round fired from an M4 rifle, commonly used by Israeli forces. The Israeli military says Palestinian militants use the same ammunition.
The military released its own image of sacks of bullets it says were confiscated in a raid last month. The bullets in the two images appear identical, with green marking on the tips.
Al Jazeera did not say how it obtained the purported image of the bullet, which is held by the Palestinian Authority. The picture shows what appears to be a curved, spent bullet in a clear plastic container labeled with a red marker.
An Associated Press reconstruction of the shooting supports accounts by Palestinian witnesses that Abu Akleh was shot by Israeli forces, but did not reach a final conclusion. Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Authority have accused Israel of targeting her, something Israel adamantly denies.
The Israeli military says she was killed during a complex military operation in which troops traded fire with Palestinian militants. It says only a sophisticated ballistic analysis of the bullet could determine whether it was fired by an Israeli soldier or a militant.
The PA says it has overwhelming evidence that Israel was responsible and has refused to hand over the bullet for analysis or cooperate with Israel in any way. Its own investigation found that she was killed by a 5.56mm round fired by a Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle.
Israel says it has identified the army rifle that could have fired the fatal round but would need to analyze the bullet to reach any firm conclusion. It has not provided details about the rifle.
Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was a widely respected on-air correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language service who had been covering the Israel-Palestinian conflict for over 25 years.