Tuesday, May 24, 2022

This AP "analysis" of the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh points to the endemic hate that the media (and Bellingcat) have for Israel far more than to any facts.

Almost two weeks after the death of the veteran Palestinian-American reporter for Al Jazeera, a reconstruction by The Associated Press lends support to assertions from both Palestinian authorities and Abu Akleh’s colleagues that the bullet that cut her down came from an Israeli gun.

Any conclusive answer is likely to prove elusive because of the severe distrust between the two sides, each of which is in sole possession of potentially crucial evidence.

Multiple videos and photos taken on the morning of May 11 show an Israeli convoy parked just up a narrow road from Abu Akleh, with a clear line of sight. They show the reporters and other bystanders in real time taking cover from bullets fired from the direction of the convoy.

The only confirmed presence of Palestinian militants was on the other side of the convoy, some 300 meters (yards) away, mostly separated from Abu Akleh by buildings and walls. Israel says at least one militant was between the convoy and the journalists, but it has not provided any evidence or indicated the shooter’s location. Palestinian witnesses say there were no militants in the area and no gunfire until the barrage that struck Abu Akleh and wounded another reporter.

Those witnesses say they have no doubt that it was Israeli soldiers who killed Abu Akleh, now celebrated as a martyr to both journalism and the Palestinian cause. The Israeli military says she was killed in a complex shootout between soldiers and militants, and that only a full investigation — including forensic analysis of the bullet — could prove who fired the fatal shot.

Here is a map from Bellingcat that shows the relative, confirmed positions of the IDF convoy and the Palestinian militants at the time Abu Akleh (red dot) was shot.


The AP and Bellingcat analysis starts with the assumption that all parties are equally likely to be shooting towards the reporters. That assumption is absurd. The IDF would be shooting at the militants - and the militants would be shooting at the IDF, towards the north, towards Abu Akleh.

The IDF has no incentive to shoot reporters, and the reporters know it, because they made their position known to the IDF. The IDF has every incentive to fire back at militants who were shooting directly at them - from the south.

The "analysis" is based on the fact that the IDF had a better line of sight to Abu Akleh - because the militants were "mostly" (but not entirely) separated by buildings and walls.  But only one party was (from open source materials) shooting in her direction. Bullets ricochet off buildings and the ground, so wildly shot automatic weapons fire can end up in places that are not line of sight. And Abu Akleh was well within range of the M16s that the Jenin terrorists use.

IDF gunfire towards the militants to the south of them could not have hit Abu Akleh.

Bellingcat's analysis makes a big deal that gunshots heard in a video taken after the shooting indicates that gunshots heard were from a distance that is consistent with the IDF position. But if the IDF was shooting south towards militants who just shot northwards towards them, that makes perfect sense. The audio analysis cannot, as far as I can tell, determine the direction of the weapon making the bang.

The main video that shows the exact time of Abu Akleh's shooting is this one:


Now, let's listen to one of the "witnesses" that AP interviewed:

Samoudi said the soldiers fired a warning shot, causing him to duck and run backwards. The second shot hit him in the back. 

Do you hear a warning shot?

The witnesses that AP interviewed are not only worthless, they have every incentive to bend the truth. 

As far as I can tell, Bellingcat did not submit this video to audio analysis to determine the distance of the gunshots heard here, at the very moments of her shooting. Last week I emailed to their expert, Robert Maher of Montana State University, asking if he did an analysis of that more important video, but have not received a response. (To be fair, practically no one who never heard of me responds to any inquiries from "Elder of Ziyon.") 

The only video where we know the IDF is definitely firing is this bodycam video taken the same day.


In this video at least, IDF soldiers shoot about one round a second. The shots heard in the video of the reporters are all faster than that, at least two per second. And some of them are clearly automatic fire. 

Both the witnesses and the analysts are primed to blame the IDF, and therefore they accept "evidence" that points to their predetermined conclusions. 

The IDF assertion that it is possible that troops were shooting towards militants to the north of them, between them and Shireen, and that bullets shot north might have ricocheted towards the reporters, is still a possibility. 

But there is no doubt that the automatic weapons fire heard in the first video above comes from Palestinian militants. There is little doubt that they were aimed northward at the IDF positions, in the direction of Shireen Abu Akleh. 

Another possibility, that Bellingcat and AP did not seem to consider, is whether the Jenin militants who were on roofs might have had a line of sight to Abu Akleh. At least one video shows that some were positioned on roofs in Jenin, although I have not seen any videos showing them definitely in line of sight.

Yet the "analysis" from AP and Bellingcat discount the possibility that shots from militants that were aimed northward could have killed her. They are more willing to accept that a few Israeli bullets were either aimed at Abu Akleh, or that several IDF bullets aimed at militants in the same direction as Abu akleh all ricocheted in the same direction, than that scores of bullets definitely coming from the south and towards Abu Akleh could have made it to her.

Both analyses are based on the idea that the IDF, out of the blue and not during a firefight with the militants they went to Jenin to engage, decided to shoot reporters - reporters who have been in hundreds of similar battlefields and who themselves implicitly trusted the IDF to stay away from them. In other words, their analyses only make sense if you assume the IDF is evil. If you factor in the fact that the IDF is a professional army that does not target civilians, none of the analysis makes any sense. (And especially when you understand that IDF snipers don't use the types of bullet that killed Abu Akleh.)

There is an underlying bias behind these analyses against Israel. And a careful reading of these "expert analyses" proves it.




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