Al Jazeera television network has filed a formal request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israeli forces over the killing of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Abu Akleh, a television correspondent with Al Jazeera for 25 years, was shot in the head during an Israeli raid in a refugee camp on the outskirts of the occupied West Bank city of Jenin back in May. She was wearing a flak jacket identifying her as press at the time she was killed.
"Al Jazeera's legal team has conducted a full and detailed investigation into the case and unearthed new evidence based on several eyewitness accounts, the examination of multiple items of video footage, and forensic evidence pertaining to the case," Al Jazeera said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The statement further reads that new evidence "clearly show that Shireen and her colleagues were directly fired at by the Israeli Occupation Forces". Al Jazeera has also rejected the claim by the Israeli authorities that the shooting had been a mistake during an exchange of fire in Jenin in the northern West Bank.
"The claim by the Israeli authorities that Shireen was killed by mistake in an exchange of fire is completely unfounded. The evidence presented to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) confirms, without any doubt, that there was no firing in the area where Shireen was, other than the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) shooting directly at her", the network added.
Al Jazeera's request follows Abu Akleh's family's formal complaint to the ICC back in September. In April, a coalition made up of the International Federation of Journalists, the Palestinian Press Syndicate, and leading human rights lawyers submitted an initial appeal to the ICC over the alleged systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists. Abu Akleh was killed a few days later, and Al Jazeera filed its own case asking the ICC to address her death in late May.
The ICC decided in 2021 that it had a mandate to investigate violence and war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories although Israel is not a member of the Court and does not recognise its jurisdiction.
"No one will investigate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al Jazeera," the outgoing prime minister, Yair Lapid reportedly said in a statement in response to Tuesday's ICC appeal.
After receiving complaints from individuals or groups, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC decides independently whether a complaint meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute to warrant investigation by the Office.
Judges decide whether to allow a preliminary investigation by the prosecutor, which can then be followed by a formal investigation and if warranted, charges.