The family of Shireen Abu Akleh welcomes the US investigation
Abu Akleh’s family has been demanding accountability for their journalist victim since May when he was shot by Israeli forces.
Shireen Abu Akleh’s family said that they were “encouraged” by the US announcement of an investigation into the May killing of a Palestinian American correspondent.
The family released a statement Tuesday stating that the US decision was necessary due to Abu Akleh being a citizen and her death “by a foreign army”.
Abu Akleh, 51 years old, was killed by Israeli forces in Jenin, a northern occupied West Bank city. She was there reporting on an Israeli raid.
Multiple witnesses, video footage, and multiple investigations by independent media outlets revealed that there were no armed Palestinians within the area where Abu Akleh was standing. Israeli soldiers began firing at them after they were confronted by other journalists. This is despite Israeli initial claims that Abu Akleh had been wounded in crossfire between Israeli soldiers, Palestinian fighters, and soldiers.
Israel finally admitted that Abu Akleh was likely killed by one of its soldiers in September, but did not say that a criminal investigation would take place.
Initial attempts by the US to investigate Abu Akleh’s murder were resisted. They argued that Israel could conduct its investigation.
According to Axios’ Monday report, the US Department of Justice informed Israel’s counterpart that the FBI will be opening an investigation into the incident.
Details of the investigation are not clear, and a spokesperson for the justice department did not respond on Monday to a request for comment.
The Israeli government responded by criticizing the US and insisting that it would not cooperate in the investigation.
“The US Justice Department’s decision to investigate the tragic death of Shireen Abu Akleh is a mistake,” stated Benny Gantz (Israel’s current defense minister).
Israel has a new government, after Benjamin Netanyahu, the former PM of Israel was given the mandate to form one after his coalition won November 1st elections.
Over the six months since the death of the veteran journalist, the family has been conducting an international campaign.
This campaign included meetings with US government officials, a complaint at the International Criminal Court, and a meeting in Rome with Pope Francis.
Bruce Fein, a former justice department official and constitutional lawyer, stated that Monday’s decision to open an FBI investigation indicated that the US has “credible evidence” to believe that an assassination took place.
Fein said that the US could exert pressure on Israel in a variety of ways to get it to cooperate, including through military aid or regional geopolitics.
Fein stated that such levers could change the minds of Israelis.
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