- Israel's military said there's a "high possibility" its forces killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
- It said it couldn't tell for sure where the gunfire came from and won't pursue a criminal probe.
- Abu Akleh had been shot in the neck in May while wearing a vest and helmet marked "Press."
The Israel Defense Forces said on Monday there was a "high possibility" that one of its soldiers shot and killed renowned Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Its conclusion comes at the end of its probe into whether Israeli troops caused the death of Abu Akleh, who was shot in the neck on May 11 while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank. She had been wearing a helmet and vest marked with "Press" when she was shot.
The findings of the IDF's report are the closest that the nation's military has come to an admission of responsibility.
"It appears that it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit Ms. Abu Akleh," the IDF said in a statement.
However, it noted that there was a "high possibility" that the journalist was "accidentally hit" by Israeli gunfire "that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen," the statement added.
The statement said that Abu Akleh hadn't been identified as a member of the press by its soldiers at the time, and IDF soldiers hadn't carried out any "intentional gunfire in a manner intended to harm the journalist."
As such, the country's military legal authority said it wouldn't pursue a criminal investigation into the soldier or soldiers involved in the case, per the IDF statement.
It noted: "Another possibility which remains relevant is that Ms. Abu Akleh was hit by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen."
The IDF has maintained that Abu Akleh was killed in an active combat situation between its forces and Palestinian militants.
Multiple investigations by media outlets such as CNN and the Associated Press concluded that it was likely Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli gunfire. By assessing video footage of the incident, CNN found that there was no active combat situation, nor were any Palestinian militants near Abu Akleh just before or at the time of her death.
In June, a United Nations investigation determined that Israeli forces had fired the shot that killed Abu Akleh. It also found "no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists."
Abu Akleh's family released a statement on Monday in response to the IDF's report.
"As expected, Israel has refused to take responsibility for murdering Shireen. Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it's obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes," it said.
Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based network that Abu Akleh worked for, condemned the IDF's statement and called it an "elusive admission" to "evade the criminal responsibility for the killing of Shireen."
The US State Department said it welcomed Israel's review of the incident and emphasized "the importance of accountability in this case," urging the IDF to adopt additional policies and procedures to prevent similar deaths.