The Al Jazeera news network said it would refer the killing of its longtime correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh to the International Criminal Court after accusing Israeli forces of fatally shooting the Palestinian American journalist, whose death sparked global outrage.
Witnesses, Palestinian authorities and the news channel, where she reported for more than two decades, said she was shot by Israeli troops. Israeli officials say they have not determined who killed her. After first saying Palestinian militants were “most likely” responsible, the military said it was investigating the possibility that one of its soldiers fired the shot.
The Qatar-based news network said Thursday in a statement that it had assigned a legal team to take the case to the court in The Hague and that the file would also include the Israeli strike on a Gaza Strip high-rise housing the offices of media outlets including Al Jazeera and the Associated Press last year — an attack that prompted condemnation from media freedom advocates.
“The network vows to follow every path to achieve justice for Shireen, and ensure those responsible for her killing are brought to justice and held accountable in all international justice and legal platforms and courts,” Al Jazeera added.
Several witnesses previously interviewed by The Washington Post said there was no exchange of gunfire between the Israeli military and Palestinian gunmen when Abu Akleh was shot, despite Israeli assertions that she had been caught in crossfire.
Human rights groups have called for an independent inquiry into the reporter’s death.
As part of an ongoing investigation, the ICC ruled last year that it has jurisdiction to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories that Israel occupied in 1967, including the West Bank. Israel, which is not a member of the ICC, objected to the decision.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected requests to hand over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh to Israeli authorities and has said it will share the report of its own investigation with U.S. authorities and others. The State Department said this week that neither side had formally requested assistance, according to the Associated Press.
The Palestinian Authority announced the results of its probe Thursday, accusing Israeli forces of intentionally shooting the journalist, a charge Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz described as “a blatant lie.”
Abu Akleh’s funeral drew thousands of Palestinians to Jerusalem, with mourners hailing her as an icon. It also brought outrage after Israeli police fired stun grenades and used batons to beat people carrying the coffin, which nearly fell to the ground. Jerusalem police said they would look into the handling of the funeral.