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US Lawmakers Demand FBI Investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh's Killing

US Lawmakers Demand FBI Investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh's Killing

Sunday, 22 May, 2022 - 07:30
Palestinians carrying pictures of Shireen Abu Akleh (Reuters)

Over 50 US lawmakers from the Democratic Party called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a US citizen.

A group of 57 lawmakers sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, saying: "Given the tenuous situation in the region and the conflicting reports surrounding the death of Ms. Abu Akleh, we request the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launch an investigation into Ms. Abu Akleh's death."

Blinken criticized the Israeli police for their use of force during Abu Akleh's funeral, while US State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated on Friday, "the administration's call for a thorough and transparent investigation to determine the circumstances of her killing."

"Investigating attacks on independent media and prosecuting those responsible are of paramount importance," added Price.

The spokesman urged countries worldwide to pursue accountability for attacks on journalists anywhere, stressing that the US will continue to promote media freedom and protect journalists' ability to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats to their lives or safety, or unjust detention.

"So again, we've been clear that there must be a transparent and credible investigation of Ms. Abu Akleh's killing and that any such investigation must include accountability."

Meanwhile, Israel announced that it is "likely" that Shireen was killed by Palestinian fire or a stray bullet fired from an Israeli soldier's rifle.

The Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Herzog, said he was "disheartened" by the letter and that Israel had sought a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) that would include a US observer role.

"Our call was flatly rejected by the PA, which is cynically using Ms. Abu Akleh's death to instigate an anti-Israel propaganda campaign," he said.

Herzog called instead for Congress to press the Palestinian side on an investigation, adding that Israeli troops "would never intentionally target members of the press."

Abu Akleh, 51, was shot dead while covering an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority hailed the US State Department's position on the necessity of conducting a comprehensive investigation into the killing of the journalist.

PLO Executive Committee member Hussein al-Sheikh welcomed the State Department's call for a comprehensive and transparent investigation into the assassination of Abu Akleh after the Israeli decision to close the investigation.

Israel said earlier that it was investigating the circumstances of the incident and demanded the PA hand over the bullet that hit Abu Akleh to determine its source.

Palestinian officials assert that the source of the bullet was Israeli soldiers. Israel came up with multiple accounts for the incident on the first day, most of which refer to the assumption that the Palestinians were the ones who killed Shireen before Israel decided that it would not investigate the case.

Hamas renewed its demand for the formation of an international investigation committee into the murder of the journalist to bring the perpetrators to justice, hold them accountable and stop impunity.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a press statement that the decision of the so-called Israeli military advocate general, Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, not to order an investigation is "evidence of the sadism and brutality of the occupation based on cold-blooded killing and indifference towards laws and the international community which bears a responsibility for its failure to hold the war criminals accountable."

Barhoum stressed that Palestinians do not trust any investigation committees supervised by the occupation government.

He called on the relevant international agencies to take urgent action to hold the Israeli officials accountable "for this crime and all their crimes and violations against the Palestinian people as war criminals before the International Criminal Court."

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