Forensic technical analysis of the murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Yousef Jamal Al-Rantisi, a forensic expert with the Gaza Centre for Human Rights has presented the following assessment of last week’s murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh based on evidence available so far. (This is in contrast to Israel’s “magic bullet” scenario whereby a bullet from Palestinian resistance fighters travelled for 500 metres, did three right angle turns and with a final 40 degree swerve hit the journalist)

Forensic Technical Analysis of the Murder of the Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Presented by Forensic Expert, Yousef Jamal Al-Rantisi.

In relation to the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, the following evidence was examined and analysed:

  • available images of the crime scene,
  • the Autopsy Report of the victim that was issued by Palestinian Forensic Medicine,
  • witness reports, including from attending medical personnel,
  • location of the resistance fighters at the time of the killing, and
  • all the possibilities and angles of the shooting of journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh.

 

  1. Autopsy Report.The results of the initial forensic medicine report indicate that the direct cause of death was brain damage caused by a high-velocity bullet. The bullet penetrated the skull cavity causing an entry wound and then exited from the cavity causing another wound. Following that, the bullet hit the internal side of the protective helmet, ricocheted and lodged in the damaged tissues inside the skull.
  2. The bullet was extracted and referred to the forensic laboratory for detailed analysis and a technical report.
  3. Crime Scene By analyzing the available photographs of the crime scene, it was found that the trajectory of the bullet that killed the journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh could only have originated from where the Israeli forces raiding Jenin were positioned.
  4. Concerning the claim that the bullet may have been fired from the resistance fighters.  After analyzing the location of where the resistance fighters were located and where the crime took place, it was found:
    1. that it is impossible for the resistance fighters’ bullets to reach the location where Shireen was,
    2. the trajectory and angle of the bullet shows it cannot have originated from where the resistance fighters were located,
    3. The presence of fixed and high barriers prevents a clear and direct line of sight from where the resistance fighters were located,
    4. Concrete buildings between the Palestinian resistance and the place where the Shireen Abu Aqleh was killed, make it impossible for a bullet to penetrate these, then continue on to hit and kill the victim,
    5. There were no other persons in the area, which was effectively under Israeli military control, that could have fired the fatal shot.
  5. The effective lethal range of weapons that use 5.56 mm caliber ammunition is approximately 400 meters. From the analysis of the nature and severity of the victim’s injury, it is clear that the bullet was fired directly from medium range, and this is consistent with the distance between the victim and the Israeli force storming the Jenin camp, which is 150 meters.
  6. Criminal Intent From the analysis of the scene of the crime and the nature and site of the fatal shot, it is concluded that the crime was committed intentionally:
    1. The site of injury in the victim’s body is between the protective jacket and the helmet, just below the ear, a sensitive position vulnerable only to an experienced sniper.
    2. Israeli forces continued to shoot at anyone who tried to rescue her.
    3. Ambulance personnel reported the presence of signs of shooting on the tree next to where the victim was killed, at chest/head height of the human body.

 

Conclusions

 

Analysis of i) the images received from the crime scene, ii) the respective locations of the victim, the Israeli forces and the Palestinian resistance fighters, iii) the shooting trajectory as revealed by the Autopsy Report and the crime scene, and iv) the Autopsy Report itself, it is concluded that:

  1. Journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was exposed to a single bullet that penetrated the head, with an entry and an exit, and the bullet returned to the head after exiting because it hit the inner layer of the helmet.
  2. The shooting was not random, but rather focused and precisely directed, and this is confirmed by the convergence of holes in the tree trunk that was next to the body of the victim, Shireen Abu Aqleh.
  3. The perpetrator of the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh is without doubt the Israeli army, given the trajectory of the bullet, the respective locations of the victim, the Israeli soldiers, and the Palestinian resistance, as well as the impossibility of the victim being hit by any other party in a space controlled by the Israeli occupation.

 

Recommendations

  1. The bullet extracted from the victim’s body must be examined and compared with the weapons involved in this crime.
  2. The identity of the shooter must be established,
  3. This procedure requires an international commission of inquiry with the power to force the Israeli occupation to hand over the weapons carried by its soldiers on the day of the crime in Jenin.

 

 

Yousef Jamal Al-Rantisi

Forensic Expert

Gaza Centre for Human Rights

18 May 2022

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