Photo Credit: CNN Screenshot
Jenin-based Palestinian reporter Shatha Hanaysha was interviewed over Zoom by CNN.

The IDF already officially refuted the claims made by CNN that its soldiers willfully fired upon journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an operation conducted in Jenin Refugee Camp two weeks ago, killing her. Now the IDF has released a detailed refutation of the CNN claims.

CNN published a report on Tuesday supposedly offering “new evidence” that proves that the Israeli troops were “shooting directly at the journalists,” and that Akleh was shot dead “in a targeted attack” by the Israeli forces.

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After the report was first published the IDF stated in response that it has itself been investigating the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death “in-depth and thoroughly.” The interim investigation shows, said the IDF, that it is not possible to determine the source of the shooting that killed the reporter.

In any case, the claim that the shooting was intentional “is devoid of any basis,” the IDF underscored.

And on Thursday the IDF released a point-by-point counter-argument that shows that CNN drew conclusions that could not even be honestly based on the purported facts that the network mentioned. It further cites the inherent biases against Israel of the people who provided CNN with what they claimed to be their first-hand eyewitness accounts of the shooting. The IDF also points out the inconsistencies in the report.

The CNN article presented Palestinian testimonies, audio analysis of videos taken at the scene of the incident, and a photograph of the tree behind the spot where reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was killed; all of this was presented as proof that it was deliberately fired by the IDF.

But the IDF points out that none of this information constitutes a sufficient basis for the article’s declarations assigning blame to the IDF. And it certainly does not contradict other possibilities, including that the reporter was killed by Palestinian gunmen.

There is one item of information required to prove the identity of the weapon that led to her death – the bullet, which the Palestinians refuse to pass for a joint forensic examination with Israeli and American representatives, as Israel has proposed.

The testimony given in the article by the journalist Shatha Hanaysha did not constitute a sufficient basis for the conclusion that soldiers fired deliberately at the reporter, says the IDF. Na’ayasha claimed that she “knows that IDF soldiers recognized her and aimed their fire at her,” even though, she was 200 meters away from the IDF force. At such a distance, the IDF explains, she would have been unable to determine what a soldier identified or did not identify, and what he intended to shoot at.

The IDF also points out that Hanaisha cannot be considered an objective source of information as she has a long history of publishing pieces that support terrorism, and is herself a resident of the Jenin refugee camp.

The article quotes Jamal Hawail, a senior Fatah official who expressed support for terrorist attacks against Israelis, including the Bnei Brak attack, as a source of information.

Hawail claimed that he “knows that an IDF sniper executed Shireen Abu Akleh.” How could he possibly know what the intentions of an individual soldier were at that moment?

The CNN article further asserted that the IDF force was about 200 meters away from the reporter at the time of the shooting and that only the IDF soldiers could have had a clear line of fire and so they must have been the ones who shot and killed Shireen Abu Akleh.

What CNN failed to acknowledge was that, while there may not have been anyone between the IDF force and Abu Akleh at the time that she was shot, the bullets that killed her might have come from a different direction. The report did not in any way prove that the reporter could not have been hit from another direction.

The IDF also points out the inherent contradictions in the CNN piece. CNN claimed that it was a “calm” morning, but also said that locals at the time were afraid to step outside due to the possibility of violence.

Shatha Hanaysha also claimed that they were close enough to the IDF force to be identified as reporters. But she does not explain how they got so close as there was active gunfire going on all around them at the time.

Chris Cobb-Smith is mentioned in the article as an expert on weapons issues and testified that this is a deliberate attack by IDF forces. The IDF states that Cobb-Smith has a ”clear anti-Israel record,” and has produced a number of works against Israel and the IDF in the past. CNN did not mention this.

Ultimately, even the bullets themselves that killed Abu Akleh cannot prove who fired them. What they show about ballistics investigations on television police shows is not an accurate presentation of how these things work. And, even if it could be proven that the bullets were fired from an Israeli weapon with Israeli ammunition – as opposed to an AK-47 rifle – it is known that the Palestinian terrorists have a large number of weapons and ammunition stolen from Israel over the years. Their own propaganda films show them carrying M-16 rifles and so forth.

And then there is the issue of what the soldiers on the scene saw during the firefight. Did they even see the reporter? And what was she doing in the middle of a crossfire?

There is simply no legitimate avenue through which any media agency can claim to have gone through in order to arrive at any conclusions as to who actually shot and killed Shireen Abu Akleh, and certainly not what the soldiers on the ground knew and thought at the time. What is more, even a full investigation conducted with the true cooperation of all sides would not be likely to prove that anyone deliberately targeted her knowing that she was a civilian reporter.

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