Shireen Abu Aqla: Palestinians to refer journalist’s killing to ICC

In a speech at a remembrance service attended by thousands of people, Mahmoud Abbas declared that Israel was “fully responsible” for her death.

She was shot while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

Al Jazeera said Abu Aqla was killed by Israeli troops. Israel said she might have been shot by Palestinian gunmen.

The United Nations, United States and European Union have called for an independent and transparent investigation.

Abu Aqla, 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was one of the region’s most experienced and well-loved correspondents. She had reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for Al Jazeera’s Arabic news channel for two decades.

On Thursday morning, her coffin, draped in the Palestinian flag, was brought to the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah. Crowds of mourners lined the streets of the West Bank city as the motorcade passed by.

President Abbas paid tribute to Abu Aqla, describing her as a “martyr of the free word” who “sacrificed her life” to defend the Palestinian cause.

“We hold the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for her killing and they will not be able to conceal the truth with this crime,” he said.

He added that the PA had rejected an Israeli offer of a joint investigation “because we don’t trust them” and that it would “go immediately to the International Criminal Court in order to track down the criminals”.

There was no immediate response from the ICC or the Israeli government, which does not recognise the court’s authority and has refused to co-operate with an investigation into possible war crimes in the occupied territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told a meeting that the PA was preventing “even access to the basic findings that would be necessary in order to reach the truth”.

He warned the PA “to take no step that could obstruct the investigation or taint the investigative process”.