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Israeli forces 'likely responsible' for death of journalist, U.S. says

Journalists take part in a candlelight vigil to condemn the killing of veteran Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/81d2dceaca5e83d270dd6d522c9fc445/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Journalists take part in a candlelight vigil to condemn the killing of veteran Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

July 4 (UPI) -- Israeli forces are "likely responsible" for the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, though an examination of the bullet that killed her was "inconclusive," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

Abu Akleh, a reporter for Al Jazeera, was shot dead May 11 while covering a raid by Israeli Defense Forces on a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. The news outlet said she had been wearing a jacket that identified her as a member of the press when she died.

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A United Nations investigation last month backed up an investigation by Palestinian officials which found that Israeli forces were responsible for the death of Abu Akleh and said its human rights agency found it "deeply disturbing" that Israel had not conducted a criminal investigation.

Akram al-Khatib, general prosecutor for the Palestinian Authority, told Al Jazeera that officials had agreed to transfer the bullet for examination by the United States.

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Price said the bullet examination involved an "extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator" and that the USSC was given "full access" to investigations by Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian Authority.

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"Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion," Price said in his statement.

"By summarizing both investigations, the USSC concluded that gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh."

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Price added that the USSC found no evidence that the shot was intentionally fired by Israeli forces "but rather the result of tragic circumstances."

The news came just weeks ahead of an expected trip by President Joe Biden to the West Bank as some analysts have said the United States is trying "to put the issue behind it" before his visit, Al Jazeera reported.

"This is sad," Al Jazeera political analyst Marwan Bishara said. "What everyone was expecting was the U.S. administration to have the moral courage at this point in time to come out clean and to actually say clearly that the Israeli occupation is responsible for the killing of a journalist."

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