London/Palestine: On 6 July 2022, lawyers acting on behalf of the family of Shireen Abu Akleh, and journalist Ali al-Samoudi, wrote to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Israeli Army (IA) to request access to the bullet and firearm that is said to have killed Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The lawyers intend to have the firearm and bullet examined by a senior British forensic ballistics expert instructed on behalf of their clients.
The lawyers from leading London law firm Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers also requested the PA, IA and US Embassy provide access to their respective investigations, evidence and findings, including a copy of the recent forensic ballistic analysis conducted on the bullet referred to in the US Department of State’s Press Statement of 4 July 2022. The lawyers have also requested the opportunity to interview the soldiers that it is understood the IA have identified as being present during the shooting on 11 May 2022.
The requests form part of an investigation into the alleged Israeli policy of targeting Palestinian journalists. The legal team is instructed by Shireen’s family; journalists; the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ); Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) to submit a new complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which asks the ICC prosecutor to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Shireen’s death and Ali’s shooting on 11 May 2022.
A long-time TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, Shireen was killed while covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin. Ali, who was present when Shireen was killed was also shot in the shoulder. There are strong grounds to believe that Shireen was killed, and Ali was shot, by Israeli armed forces. Both join a long list of journalists targeted by the Israeli Occupying Forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
The new complaint follows an April 2022 submission to the Court which requested the ICC Prosecutor launch an investigation into the systematic targeting, maiming and killing of journalists and destruction of media infrastructure in Palestine. Shireen was killed only days after the ICC prosecutor acknowledged receipt of the first complaint.
On 5 February 2021, the ICC ruled that its criminal jurisdiction extended to ‘the Situation in Palestine,’ and that its territorial scope covered allegations that occurred in ‘Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem’. This presents for the first time, a real opportunity for the accountability of Israel’s alleged policy of targeting journalists and could lead to a formal investigation by the ICC Prosecutor and potential prosecutions.
Tayab Ali, Partner at Bindmans said:
“The forensic analysis of the firearm forms a small but important part of the evidence in this case. It is crucial that we, as the lawyers representing the victims in this case, are able to independently assess the evidence and are not prevented or hampered in our investigations. The evidence that we have seen so far provides a strong case that Israel has a policy of targeting journalists in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Evidence is mounting that the killing of Shireen and shooting of Ali was part of that purposeful policy”.
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