Israel calls U.S. move to investigate Al Jazeera journalist's killing 'serious mistake'

FILE PHOTO: Vigil in memory of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Bethlehem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israel will not cooperate with any external investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday.

Media reported that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched a probe into the killing of the Palestinian-American reporter, who was shot while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin in May, wearing a protective press vest and helmet.

"The U.S. Justice Ministry's decision to investigate the unfortunate death of Shireen Abu Akleh is a serious mistake," Gantz said in a statement.

The U.S. Justice Department and FBI declined to comment on the reports.

The circumstances of Abu Akleh's killing remain heavily disputed.

Israel's military said in September that she was likely unintentionally shot by an Israeli soldier but could have also been hit by Palestinian fire.

Palestinian officials and Abu Akleh's family have said they believe she was killed deliberately by Israeli forces and have rejected Israeli statements that there were militants around where she was standing.

Other witness accounts of the incident have disputed that Israeli positions were under fire from the area where Abu Akleh was standing when she was killed.

One of the most recognizable faces reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for two decades, Abu Akleh's death triggered outrage across the world, particularly after police beat mourners at her funeral in Jerusalem.

"It has been six long months of my family and I advocating for accountability and justice," her niece Lareen Abu Akleh said in a video posted on Twitter on Nov. 11. "We continue to pursue all possible avenues for accountability and we have hope that some day we will see justice for Shireen."

(Reporting by Henriette Chacar; Additional reporting by Christopher Gallagher, Steve Holland and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)