By Ali Sawafta
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) -Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that Israeli authorities were “fully responsible” for the killing of a veteran Al Jazeera reporter during clashes in the occupied West Bank and called for an international investigation.
Shireen Abu Akleh suffered a gunshot wound to the head in Jenin on Wednesday. Al Jazeera and Qatar, where the news network is based, accused Israeli troops of the killing.
Israel, which has voiced regret at Abu Akleh’s death, said that the fatal shot might have been fired by a Palestinian gunman. It has proposed a joint investigation with the Palestinians, asking them to provide the bullet for examination.
“We rejected the joint investigation with the Israeli occupation authorities because they committed the crime and because we don’t trust them,” said Abbas during an official memorial ceremony for Abu Akleh, who was Palestinian-American.
He added that the Palestinian Authority “will go immediately to the International Criminal Court in order to track down the criminals”.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed that the Palestinian Authority had rejected a shared investigation.
“I reiterate my expectation for open, transparent and full cooperation regarding the findings,” he said in a statement.
Abu Akleh, 51, was wearing a blue vest clearly marked “Press” while reporting in Jenin, Al Jazeera said. She was covering the latest arrest operation launched by the Israeli military amid deadly Arab attacks in Israel. Another Palestinian journalist at the scene, Ali Samoodi, was wounded.
The body of Abu Akleh was driven in a motorcade from a hospital in the Palestinian hub city of Ramallah towards Abbas’s compound. Hundreds of mourners lined both sides of the road, some throwing flowers.
The death drew international and Arab condemnation, including from the White House, which demanded a “comprehenisve investigation”.
(Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Lilian Wagdy; Editing by Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie)