Israel protests to US over Shireen Abu Akleh investigation

Israel protests to US over Shireen Abu Akleh investigation

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Israel has protested to the US over its decision to investigate the killing of veteran Palestinian-US journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and will not co-operate, senior Israeli officials said on Tuesday.

Abu Akleh was a journalist for Al Jazeera and a household name in the Middle East. He was killed while covering an Israeli military raid on Jenin in the occupied West Bank in May.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid stated that Israeli soldiers would not be investigated by the FBI or any other foreign country or entity, “however friendly it may seem” and that Israel had expressed its “strong protest” against the US following media reports that the US was opening an investigation into Abu Akleh’s death.

Lapid shared the same stance as Benny Gantz (defense minister), who earlier called the US justice department’s decision to investigate Abu Akleh’s death “a mistake” and stated that he had told US officials that Israel would never assist with an “external probe”. The FBI and the US justice department declined to comment.

Palestinian officials blamed Israeli soldiers in Abu Akleh’s death. This sparked outrage worldwide and put a spotlight on Israeli operations within the West Bank. Al Jazeera also accused Israel of “deliberately attacking and killing our colleague”.

After initially casting doubt on suggestions that one of its soldiers had killed Abu Akleh, Israel in September acknowledged that there was a “high possibility” that she had been shot by mistake by an Israeli soldier, who did not identify her as a journalist, in an exchange of fire with militants. Abu Akleh’s family stated that they were “encouraged by” the US investigation and added that it hoped the US would employ “all of its investigative tools” to “get answers about Shireen’s killing and hold those responsible accountable.” The family released a statement saying that they hope the investigation by the United States will prove to be independent, credible, thorough, and follow the evidence up and down the chain. Abu Akleh was killed. The scenes at her funeral, during which Israeli riot cops beat mourners, including their pals, triggered intense criticism from the international community. This was followed by a series examinations and reconstructions by media.

The UN human rights office said the shot that killed Abu Akleh came from the direction of Israeli forces, while the US said in July after reviewing Israeli and Palestinian probes into her death that unintentional Israeli gunfire was “likely responsible” for her death.

After Israel completed its own probes in September, Israel’s military advocate general said there would be no military criminal probe into the killing of Abu Akleh, who was shot in the head while wearing a helmet and a blue flak jacket marked “press”, as there was no suspicion that an offence warranting such a move had been committed.

Gantz stated Tuesday that the Israeli military’s investigation was “professional” but independent and that the results were shared with US officials.

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