Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday indicated on Wednesday (September 7) that he was against prosecuting a solidier who likely shot dead Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an army operation.
Palestinian-American Akleh was wearing a bulletproof jacket marked “Press” when she was shot in the head in Jenin refugee camp in Israel-held West Bank.
Israeli army, on Monday, conceded for the first time that one of its soldiers may have shot Akleh after mistaking her for a militant.
“There is a high possibility that Ms Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF (army) gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen,” said the army’s final report into her May 11 death.
The acknowledgement comes after months in which the army had insisted it was impossible to determine the source of the deadly shot that killed the celebrated Al Jazeera journalist, saying it could have been militant fire.
“I will not allow an IDF (army) soldier that was protecting himself from terrorist fire to be prosecuted just to receive applause from abroad,” Lapid told a military ceremony.
“No one will dictate our rules of engagement to us,” he said.
“Our soldiers have the full backing of the government of Israel and the people of Israel.”
US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel had told a press briefing Tuesday: “We’re going to continue to press our Israeli partners to closely review its policies and practices on rules of engagement and consider additional steps to mitigate the risk of civilian harm”.
(With inputs from agencies)
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