Israeli army says it’s ‘likely’ their soldier killed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh

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Shireen Abu Akleh on Al Jazeera  (Supplied)
Shireen Abu Akleh on Al Jazeera (Supplied)

The Israeli army has said there is a "high possibility" that one of their soldiers killed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in May.

However, a senior military official said the military's top legal officer will not be launching a criminal investigation into the incident - meaning neither the soldier nor his command will face punishment.

Ms Abu Akleh was killed while covering Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank, with Palestinian authorities blaming the Israeli army.

Israel initially said she may have been killed by militant fire, but later said a soldier may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire.

Ms Abu Akleh, a Palestine-American journalist, had covered the West Bank for the satellite channel for two decades and was well known across the Arab world.

In a briefing to reporters, the official said the military could not conclusively determine where the fire emanated from, saying there may have been Palestinian gunmen in the same area as the Israeli soldier.

But he said the soldier killed the journalist "with very high likelihood" and did so by mistake.

The official did not explain why witness accounts and videos showed limited militant activity in the area, as well as no gunfire in the vicinity until the barrage that struck Ms Abu Akleh and wounded another reporter.

"He misidentified her. His reports in real time point to a misidentification," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines.

The results of the probe, announced nearly four months after the killing, largely align with those of several independent investigations completed much earlier.

There was no immediate reaction from Palestinian officials, Al Jazeera or her family.

Additional reporting by AP.