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Democrats introduce bill to force US investigation into Israel’s killing of Abu Akleh

Jerusalem24 – A piece of congressional legislation dated 2 July was spearheaded by Indiana representative Andre Carson as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (the annual bill that authorizes Pentagon spending and helps set US military policy) that would force the FBI and the State Department to investigate the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Abu Akleh, a prominent Al Jazeera correspondent, was killed on 11 May while covering an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp, which attracted international outrage. Multiple investigations by UN, CNN, AP, Washington Post, New York Times, the Palestinian Authority, Bellingcat, and Al Haq concluded that Abu Akleh was killed by an Israeli Sniper.

The legislation mentioned that the investigation shall include an identification of those individuals or entities that carried out, participated in, or were otherwise complicit in, or responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.

In addition, the bill requests the identification of any US defense materials or services implicated in the death of Abu Akleh.

Representative Mr. Carson of Indiana included in the amendment that the investigation shall be submitted in unclassified form and made available to the public at the same time on the website of the Department of State.

“The killing of Al Jazeera reporter and fellow American, Shireen Abu Akleh, was not only a tragedy; it was an affront to press freedom and to all Americans. We need answers and accountability from the Israeli government,” Carson told Jewish Currents in a statement.

On 4 July, the US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which oversaw a ballistics examination by the Israelis of the bullet that killed veteran Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, issued the conclusion that “gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death” of Abu Akleh.

The US Department of State issued a statement on the same day: “After an extremely detailed forensic analysis, independent, third-party examiners, as part of a process overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator, could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion.”

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib issued a statement on the 8th of July, slamming the US Department of State examination, saying, “when an American citizen is murdered abroad, it is typically standard procedure for the U.S. to open a criminal investigation. But in this case, the State Department and the Biden Administration have yet to launch an independent U.S. investigation, led by the FBI, into Shireen’s murder, as was demanded by more than 80 Members of Congress in separate letters to the Biden Administration. Instead, they admit that Shireen was likely killed by Israeli forces, but extend the benefit of the doubt to a government that has earned none.”

The family of Abu Akleh, who also slammed the results of the US examination, has sent a letter to US President Joe Biden to express “grief, outrage and sense of betrayal” concerning the US administration’s response to the killing of the beloved journalist.

The letter, dated 8 July, describes the US administration’s actions as “an apparent intent to undermine our effort toward justice and accountably for Shireen’s death.”

In the letter, the family claims they were misled: “Little information has been shared on who oversaw the American “summation” of investigations, who participated in the ballistics assessment, or any specific individual qualifications or findings leading to the conclusions issued by your administration.”

The letter concludes with a demand to meet with President Biden during his visit to the region.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 6 years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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