Israel said on Sunday it would test a bullet that killed an American-Palestinian journalist to determine if one of its soldiers had fired at her and said an American observer would be present for the procedure which could yield results in a few hours.
The Palestinians, who handed over the bullet to a US security coordinator on Saturday, said they had been assured that Israel would not participate in the ballistics.
Washington has yet to comment. The United States has a holiday weekend to mark the 4th of July.
The May 11 death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, and wrangling between the sides over the circumstances, has overshadowed a visit by US President Joe Biden scheduled for this month.
The Palestinians accuse the Israeli army of deliberately killing her. Israel denies this, saying Abu Akleh may have been hit by errant army fire or by one of the Palestinian gunmen who confronted his forces.
“The (ballistic) test will not be American. The test will be an Israeli test, with an American presence everywhere,” Israeli army spokesman Brigadier General Ran Kochav said.
“In the days or hours to come, it will become clear whether it was even us who killed her, accidentally, or whether it was the Palestinian gunmen,” he told Army Radio. . “If we killed her, we will take responsibility and we will regret what happened.”
Akram al-Khatib, attorney general of the Palestinian Authority, said the test would take place at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
“We got guarantees from the US coordinator that the review will be conducted by them and that the Israeli side will not participate in it,” Al-Khatib told Voice of Palestine radio, adding that he expected the ball is returned on Sunday.
An embassy spokesperson said: “We have nothing new at this time.”
Biden is expected to hold separate meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders July 13-16. The Abu Akleh affair will be a diplomatic and national test for new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
Israel’s Deputy Homeland Security Minister Yoav Segalovitz said Lapid had been involved in “managing the arrival and transfer of that bullet.”
“It will take a few days to do a ballistic test, with multiple experts, to make sure there’s an unequivocal assessment,” Segalovitz told Army Radio.
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