Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent Palestinian-American Al Jazeera reporter, was shot dead during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on May 11.

Al Jazeera's legal team alongside international legal experts will prepare a file on the killing of Abu Akleh to refer it to the ICC.
Al Jazeera's legal team alongside international legal experts will prepare a file on the killing of Abu Akleh to refer it to the ICC. (AFP)

The Al Jazeera news network says it will submit a case file to the International Criminal Court on the killing of reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by Israeli army earlier this month.

Al Jazeera said late Thursday it has formed an international legal team to prepare a case dossier to be submitted to the ICC. 

The Qatar-based network and the Palestinian Authority have accused Israeli soldiers of deliberately killing her. 

Israel rejects those allegations as a “blatant lie." It says she was shot during a firefight between soldiers and Palestinian militants, and that only ballistic analysis of the bullet – which is held by the PA – can determine who fired the fatal shot.

An AP reconstruction lent support to witnesses who say the veteran Palestinian-American correspondent was killed by Israeli fire, but any final conclusion may depend on evidence that has not yet been released.

READ MORE: Palestine: Israeli troops 'deliberately' killed Al Jazeera reporter

Justice for Abu Akleh

“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 said.

Israel says it cannot determine whether Palestinians or its own soldiers fired the fatal shot unless the PA hands over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh for ballistic analysis. The PA has refused to cooperate with Israel in any way, saying it doesn't trust Israel to investigate itself.

The PA announced the results of its own probe on Thursday, saying Abu Akleh was deliberately killed by Israeli forces. 

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz rejected the findings, saying “any claim that the IDF intentionally harms journalists or uninvolved civilians is a blatant lie,” referring to the Israeli military.

Armour-piercing NATO round

Palestinian Attorney General Akram Al Khateeb, in announcing the results of the probe, said the bullet that killed her was an armour-piercing 5.56 mm NATO round and that it appeared to have been fired by a Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle.

The Israeli military declined to comment on whether the gun described by the Palestinians matches one the military has previously identified as having possibly fired the fatal shot. 

It also declined to say whether the army uses the Ruger Mini-14 or whether any were in use during the May 11 raid in which Abu Akleh was killed, in the West Bank town of Jenin.

Israel has publicly called for a joint investigation with the PA, with the participation of the US The State Department said this week that neither Israel nor the PA has formally requested its assistance. 

READ MORE: Palestinian journalist's killing shines light on media slant

Blinken: concluding investigation important

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Friday to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and stressed the importance of concluding Israel's probes into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

"Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of concluding the investigations into the death of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh," the US State Department said in a statement.

Al Jazeera said the case file would also include the Israeli bombing of the building housing its offices in Gaza during last year's Israeli offensive “as well as the continuous incitements and attacks on its journalists operating in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Israel said the building – which also housed the Gaza office of The Associated Press – contained Hamas military infrastructure, but has not provided any evidence. 

The AP was not aware of any purported Hamas presence in the building and condemned the strike as “shocking and horrifying.” No one was hurt in the strike, which came after an Israeli warning to evacuate.

The ICC launched an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes last year. Israel is not a member of the ICC and has rejected the probe as being biased against it.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies