This morning, Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aqleh was killed by a bullet to her head during a firefight in Jenin between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.
That's all we know for sure.
But the reactions to her death show a huge difference in how each side cares about the truth.
From the Israeli side:
“During the operation in Jenin refugee camp, suspects fired an enormous amount of gunfire at troops and hurled explosive devices. [Israeli] forces fired back” the Israeli army said in a statement.“Hits were identified,” the military added, although there were no reports of Palestinian casualties beyond the two journalists.The army said it was “looking into the possibility that journalists were injured, potentially by Palestinian gunfire.” In video from the scene, Palestinian gunmen can be seen firing off rounds; at one point, one Palestinian says that an Israeli soldier was hit by gunfire [and was on the ground, no IDF soldier was injured - EoZ].Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the government backed the soldiers’ actions.“According to the information in our hands right now, there is a good chance that armed Palestinians, firing wildly, brought about the tragic death of the journalist,” Bennett said in a statement.
But on the Palestinian and pro-Palestinian side, even the idea that an errant bullet from their side might have accidentally hit the journalist is absolutely forbidden to say.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Abu Aqleh’s death an “execution” and “an ugly crime.” The Hamas terror group accused Israel of “deliberately assassinating” her.Palestinian health officials and witnesses rejected the possibility that Abu Aqleh was killed by errant Palestinian gunfire. In footage seen by The Times of Israel, the journalists can be seen more or less on their own — with no armed Palestinians or Israeli soldiers apparently nearby.“The assessment is that she was killed by Israeli gunfire, and witnesses at the scene attest to this as well,” a Palestinian health official said in a phone call.
This should be easy to solve: just obtain the bullet and see what kind of gun it came from.
Yet the side that is adamant about their innocence is equally adamant that this evidence is literally buried:
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Israel had offered the Palestinians a joint pathological investigation into “the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla.”“Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth,” Lapid said in a statement.
Lapid is interested in transparency, and while normally the IDF does its own investigations, they are willing to work with Palestinian pathologists in order to ensure that no one can accuse its investigation of being biased.
But from the Palestinian side:
The Palestinian Authority has thus far refused the request, Israeli officials said. Ramallah has yet to officially comment on the Israeli offer.“I believe they refused because they have no interest in uncovering the truth,” said Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar.
The Palestinian Red Crescent quickly removed her body. The Palestinians rushed to bury her in Jenin. (CORRECTION: They had a funeral procession but she is being buried tomorrow.)
Ran Kochav, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, told Kan public broadcaster. "We proposed to the Palestinians to open a swift joint probe. If we indeed killed her, we'll take responsibility, but it doesn't seem to be the case....If the Palestinians cooperate we'll have better answers."
Her coworker who was also shot immediately blamed Israel, but that means there are other bullets that can be recovered - and the Palestinians on the scene seem not to want those bullets to be examined.
While we might not know who killed Abu Aqleh, but we can see very clearly that only the Israeli side is interested in the truth, no matter which way it points. And the Palestinians do not even want the possibility that she was killed by their side to be in the conversation.
This is a consistent pattern with all such incidents over the years. Israel admits when its side makes a mistake, the Palestinian leaders don't want to admit that even wildly shooting terrorists on their side, acting independently, could possibly be at fault for anything. This happens with Gaza rocket misfires that kill Palestinians as well - they never admit it even when normally anti-Israel organizations like PCHR or the UN say it came from their side.
The truth is not clear right now. But here, as always, only one side is interested in the truth, while the other side is only interested in using this as propaganda.
That is enough reason to believe the Israeli side implicitly whenever incidents like this occur.
And any media that reports the Palestinian claims without reservation are just as uninterested in the truth as the Palestinians themselves, and should be treated accordingly.