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“Credible evidence”: FBI opens investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing

Jerusalem24 – The US Department of Justice has notified the Israeli Ministry of Justice that the FBI has opened its own investigation into the circumstances of the killing of Al-Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, according to a report by Axios.

Palestinian-American Abu Akleh was fatally shot by an Israeli sniper while covering a military raid in Jenin’s refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank on 11 May.

The FBI’s decision to open an investigation into the case was first reported on Israel’s Channel 14 on Monday, according to Axios.

Abu Akleh’s family has welcomed the US decision to open a probe into her killing.

“Our family has been asking for a US investigation since the beginning, and it is what the United States should do when a US citizen is killed abroad – especially when they were killed, like Shireen, by a foreign military,” a family statement said. “This is an important step toward accountability.”

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Twitter that Israel “will not cooperate” with the US probe, calling it “a grave mistake”.

“I have delivered a message to US representatives that we stand by the IDF’s soldiers, that we will not cooperate with an external investigation, and will not enable intervention to internal investigations,” he said.

Credible evidence

According to Axios the investigation could lead to a US request to investigate the soldiers who were involved in the operation – a request Israel would almost certainly reject – and to tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli government.

Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former Justice Department official, told Al-Jazeera that a decision to launch an FBI investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing means that the US authorities have “credible evidence” related to what occurred.

“There’s credible evidence in the FBI’s view, based upon things that have been in the public domain – irrespective of Israel’s recalcitrance – to believe that a crime was committed, namely assassination.”

Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a statement on Monday, “This is an overdue but necessary and important step in the pursuit of justice and accountability in the shooting death of American citizen and journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh.”

Van Hollen was one of 57 lawmakers who signed a letter in May to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding that the FBI and State Department investigate the murder of Abu Akleh.

“As an American, Ms Abu Akleh was entitled to the full protections afforded to US citizens living abroad,” the letter said.

Targeting of Palestinian journalists: Case at ICC

On 20 September 2022, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), and Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) delivered a new legal complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the shooting of journalist Ali Samoudi.

Journalist Shatha Hanaysheh, who was present at the scene and also came under fire, is also listed in the complaint.

The complaint includes the findings of all investigations conducted as well as all recorded data and testimonies, including new evidence, concerning the killing of Abu Akleh who was shot on 11 May by an Israeli sniper while covering an Israeli army raid of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.

Forensic Architecture in collaboration with Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, simultaneously submitted to the ICC and released to the public, shows conclusive evidence that the Abu Akleh was deliberately shot and killed by an Israeli soldier. This confirms the findings of half a dozen earlier independent reviews of her killing, including the United Nations which found that an Israeli bullet was responsible for her death.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 5+ 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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