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AP reconstruction suggests Israeli shots killed reporter

Amid a makeshift memorial in the West Bank city of Jenin, May 19, 2022, yellow tape marks bullet holes on a tree at the site where Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed on May 11. A reconstruction by the AP lends support to assertions by Palestinian authorities and Abu Akleh’s colleagues that she was killed by a bullet from an Israeli gun. (AP Photo / Majdi Mohammed)

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Jerusalem correspondent Joseph Krauss and photographer Majdi Mohammed conducted an exclusive in-depth reconstruction of the killing of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh. Their work — the only on-the-ground investigation by an international media organization — lends support to Palestinian claims that the prominent journalist was hit by Israeli gunfire.

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Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at work above the Old City of Jerusalem, in an undated photo. – Al Jazeera Media Network via AP

From the moment that Abu Akleh was shot dead while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank, a battle of dueling narratives emerged. Al Jazeera and Palestinian officials accused Israel of deliberately killing the journalist. The Israeli army said she was caught in the crossfire of a gunbattle, and it was unclear whether soldiers or Palestinian gunmen had fired the fatal bullet. Israel called on the Palestinians to turn over the bullet for forensic analysis, an offer that was quickly refused.

With the sides deadlocked, Krauss took on the difficult task of trying to determine what happened. He and Mohammed visited all the relevant locations and Krauss interviewed multiple witnesses, examined videos from social media and spoke to a weapons expert. The pair’s examination of the area also raised questions about Israeli claims that militants were in the immediate area of Abu Akleh, and a photo by Mohammed showed the clear line of sight that Israeli soldiers had toward the reporter.

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Key elements in the May 11 shooting death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin, the West Bank. – AP / Francois Duckett

While acknowledging the obstacles to a definitive answer, Krauss concluded that the available evidence supports the view that Abu Akleh was killed by an Israeli gun.

AP’s story was the first comprehensive and independent look at the fatal shooting. In a busy news cycle the piece scored in AP’s top 10 for reader engagement and was widely shared on social media.

Krauss followed up with a story reporting the U.S. State Department’s confirmation that,contrary to Israeli claims, Israel had not formally requested U.S. assistance in the investigation.

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