According to Israel, it would not assist the FBI in its probe into how the Israeli army killed American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The investigation was criticised as “interference in Israel’s internal affairs” by Israel’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, who also stated that he “made it clear to the American representatives that we stand behind the IDF [Israeli defence forces] soldiers, that we will not cooperate with any external investigation.”
“The US Department of Justice made a serious error when it decided to look into the tragic death of Shireen Abu Akleh. The IDF carried out an impartial and expert investigation, which was handed to the Americans who provided the specifics, according to Gantz.
However, a complete lack of cooperation would sour relations with Washington and support allegations that Israel covered up Abu Akleh’s death while she was covering a military raid on the West Bank city of Jenin in May.
After months of pressure from the family of the highly regarded Al-Jazeera journalist, who claimed the Biden administration was “skulking toward the erasing of any misconduct by Israeli forces,” the FBI finally opened an inquiry. The family had the support of numerous Congressmen.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, who was strongly critical of Israel’s refusal to adequately account for the assassination, welcomed the news of the investigation. In the quest for justice and accountability for the shooting death of American citizen and journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, he tweeted, “This is an overdue but necessary and critical step.”
The FBI has opened an investigation into the death of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli officials said Monday. https://t.co/7ryM1oHoKZ
— PEN America (@PENamerica) November 14, 2022
Initially, the IDF claimed Palestinian assailants were to blame for the death of Abu Akleh. However, investigations by the UN and other media outlets came to the conclusion that Israeli forces were virtually probably to blame for the journalist’s death because she was not in the vicinity of Palestinian gunfire when she was murdered. According to the UN, Israeli soldiers shot at Abu Akleh and other journalists “several single, presumably well-aimed rounds.”
The IDF finally acknowledged in September that one of its soldiers had likely shot her, but added that no charges would be filed because no laws had been broken and concluded the investigation. The US State Department was willing to leave the situation go at that point, but political pressure from Congress persisted.
Patrick Leahy, the senator with the longest tenure, questioned the validity of Israel’s report on the killing of Abu Akleh, pointing out that “there is a history of investigations into shootings by IDF soldiers that rarely result in accountability.”
By suggesting that Israel’s failure to fully account for the murder of the Al-Jazeera reporter could jeopardise the US’s substantial military assistance to the Jewish state under a law he sponsored 25 years ago restricting the flow of arms to nations that violate human rights, Leahy increased the pressure on Israel.
As is “customary and appropriate following a tragedy like this involving a famous American slain overseas under suspicious circumstances,” Leahy told the Senate that the Biden administration had ignored pleas from members of Congress for the FBI to look into Abu Akleh’s killing. He remarked, “Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a credible, independent investigation. Additionally, Van Hollen disregarded the Israeli inquiry.
The main “argument” in this IDF report is that when Abu Aqleh was hit, a soldier was “returning fire” from militants. Tweets from Van Hollen. Investigations, however, revealed there was no such fire at the time. An emphasises the need for an impartial US investigation into the death of this American journalist.
A letter disputing Israel’s assertion that Abu Akleh was unintentionally shot by a soldier was signed by nearly half of the Democratic senators. The letter makes the assumption that her status as a journalist may have made her a target. The US inquiry was also hailed by the Israeli human rights organisation, Yesh Din. It stated that the only way to learn the truth was through an impartial, international probe.
But Yesh Din clarified that Abu Akleh’s citizenship was the only reason it was taking place. It is crucial to stress that this is a unique occurrence because an American citizen and a well-known journalist are involved. The army rarely opens a criminal inquiry (72% of complaints made by Palestinians are ignored). Not just when it involves a citizen of the United States, but always, a comprehensive and serious investigation is required.
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