Family of Journalist Killed in West Bank Takes Out Biden
JERUSALEM — The family of a Palestinian-American journalist killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank hit out at President Joe Biden in a letter released Friday about his administration’s response to her death.
Relatives of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh expressed “sorrow, outrage and (a) sense of betrayal”, accusing the US of trying to clear Israel of responsibility for her death. A US statement earlier this week that said Israeli fire likely killed her but the May 11 shooting in the West Bank city of Jenin was unintentional.
The fallout from the murder is likely to cast a shadow over Biden’s trip to Israel and the occupied West Bank next week. The family asked Biden to meet them when he visits the area. The White House declined to comment on the letter or the meeting request.
A reconstruction by the Associated Press lent support to Palestinian eyewitnesses who said she was shot by Israeli forces without making a final decision. Investigations by CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as monitoring by the United Nations human rights office, reached similar conclusions.
Israel denies that she was deliberately targeted and says she could have been shot by an Israeli soldier or a Palestinian militant in an exchange of fire. The State Department said in a July 4 statement that the bullet that killed her was too damaged to determine who fired it.
The statement said the United States summarized separate investigations by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, concluding that it was likely hit by Israeli fire. But he found “no reason to believe it was intentional”, saying it was the result of “tragic circumstances”.
The United States has not explained how it reached these conclusions or cited any evidence to support them.
The Abu Akleh family said “all available evidence” suggests she was deliberately killed by an Israeli soldier and that the administration has “completely failed to meet the minimum expectations” of a credible and independent investigation.
“Instead, the United States has worked to erase any wrongdoing by Israeli forces,” they said. “It’s like you expect the world and us to move on now. Silence would have been better.
Asked about the letter, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she hasn’t seen it yet and declined to comment on Biden’s travel plans. She said Biden is following the investigation closely and senior US officials are in contact with the family.
“We feel their pain. We can’t even imagine what they must be going through,” she said. “We continue to urge cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the next steps and we certainly continue to urge accountability.”
US lawmakers have pressured the administration to conduct an independent investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, a veteran on-air correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language service who is widely known and respected around the world. Arab.
Abu Akleh, who was 51, had spent a quarter of a century documenting the harsh realities of life under Israeli military rule. The Palestinians regard her as a martyr of journalism as well as of their national cause.
Israeli police drew widespread criticism when they beat mourners and pallbearers at their funeral in Jerusalem on May 14. .
Krauss reported from Ottawa, Ontario. Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.