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US opens probe into killing of Palestinian-American journalist

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US opens probe into killing of Palestinian-
American journalist
killing-of-palestinianamerican-journalist/news-story/8a02ca1718678ad83aead2637cf58d69 )
The Australian/Wall Street Journal, 16/11/2022)
The US Justice Department has opened an investigation into the killing of a
Palestinian-American journalist shot dead while covering an Israeli miliary
raid in the West Bank, Israeli officials said, vowing not to co-operate with
the probe.
US officials recently notified Israel that the Justice Department was
investigating the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Al Jazeera
journalist killed in May. A series of independent investigations concluded
that an Israeli soldier about 200m away likely shot Abu Akleh as she
walked up a road wearing body armour with the word “PRESS” on the front.
Israeli military investigators determined that there was a “high possibility”
that Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier who mistook her for a
Palestinian militant and opened fire as she walked up the street with other
journalists. But Israeli officials said they couldn’t unequivocally determine
who fired the fatal shot and took no disciplinary action.
The US also concluded that an Israeli soldier most likely shot Abu Akleh,
and the Biden administration called on Israel to hold to account those
responsible for her death.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately comment on the investigation.
Israel’s Justice Ministry and Prime Minister’s office didn’t respond to
requests for comment.
Israeli leaders reacted with outrage to the US investigation, which is
already putting new strains on relations between the two nations.
On Monday (Tuesday AEDT), after news of the US investigation was
reported on Israeli television, Israel Defence Minister Benny Gantz
denounced the move as a “mistake”.
“The [Israel Defence Forces] has conducted a professional, independent
investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the

case details were shared,” Mr Gantz said. “I have delivered a message to
US representatives that we stand by the IDF’s soldiers, and that we will not
co-operate with an external investigation.”
It isn’t uncommon for the FBI to investigate the deaths or killings of
Americans overseas, usually with the permission and co-operation of local
authorities. But a federal probe into the actions of an ally such as Israel
would be rare.
It couldn’t immediately be determined how such an investigation would
progress without the assistance or co-operation of Israeli officials.
A Justice Department investigation of Israeli military actions is certain to
create new friction between Washington and Jerusalem, where former
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the midst of creating a new right-
leaning coalition government he is expected to lead in the coming weeks.
The State Department called Abu Akleh’s death “a tremendous loss” and
referred questions to the Justice Department.
“Not only was Shireen an American citizen, she was a fearless reporter
whose journalism and pursuit of truth earned her the respect of audiences
around the world,” the State Department said.
Abu Akleh, 51, was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli military raid
in the West Bank city of Jenin. Israeli leaders initially suggested that Abu
Akleh might have been mistakenly shot by Palestinian militants engaged in
clashes with Israeli forces. But witnesses told The Wall Street Journal at
the time that no nearby firefight was going on and that no militants were
close to Abu Akleh when she was shot.
After protracted negotiations, Palestinian officials provided the bullet that
killed Abu Akleh to Israeli investigators via the US for testing, but
investigators were unable to determine which gun fired the fatal round.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, who has led efforts in congress to get answers
about Abu Akleh’s death, praised the news as an “overdue but necessary
and important step in the pursuit of justice and accountability”.
The Wall Street Journal

Article link:
Article source: The Australian, 16/11/2022

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000

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