The U.S. Justice Department has informed the Israeli government that the FBI will investigate the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian American journalist who was shot during an Israeli raid in May. The announcement comes shortly after elections were held in the United States and Israel. “Such an investigation is highly unusual and could lead to a U.S. request to investigate the soldiers who were involved in the operation — a request Israel would almost certainly reject,” wrote Barak Ravid, who first reported the story for Axios. “The investigation could also lead to tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli government.” On Twitter Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has already declared that Israel will not cooperate with any outside probe.
Shireen Abu Akleh
On May 13, two days after the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli Occupation Forces, as her loss still dominated international news cycles, thousands of Palestinian mourners gathered to pay tribute to the woman who had given them voice for so long. They came to lay her body to rest. Immediately, as the funeral procession was just starting, images emerged of Israeli forces attacking the pallbearers as they attempted to carry her coffin across the courtyard from the French hospital in East Jerusalem.
On the day that the US celebrates its so-called independence on colonized land, Washington signed off on Israel’s clearing itself of direct responsibility for the killing of prominent Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. A statement attributed to Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department, said that American officials “could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet that killed” Abu Akleh because it was too badly damaged. Price’s statement added that US officials “concluded that gunfire from IDF [Israeli military] positions was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.”
Ramallah, Occupied West Bank, Palestine – Two weeks after Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed while on assignment covering an Israeli raid in Jenin, a press conference announced the results of a Palestinian investigation finding Israeli forces responsible for the killing. Abu Akleh was a veteran reporter for Al Jazeera and beloved by Palestinians across the region as well as by her colleagues. Providing proof that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was from a U.S. made Mini-14 Ruger sniper rifle used by Israeli forces, Palestinian Attorney General Akram Al-Khatib and the Deputy Prime Minister of Palestine, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spoke at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah. “This report directly accuses Israel’s occupation army for this crime,” said Rudeineh.
The cold-blooded killing of Shireen Abu Akleh earlier this month has made headlines around the world. An Israeli soldier shot the veteran Al-Jazeera journalist in the head while she was reporting on their raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin. Shireen’s niece Lina first heard of the news from her father, who phoned her early in the morning to tell her she was injured. Today, Watchdog host Lowkey speaks to Lina Abu Akleh about her aunt’s work, legacy, and the ongoing war against the press.
A Palestinian student protested US support for Israel during her graduation ceremony, holding a picture of slain reporter Shireen Abu Akleh and refusing to shake hands with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Nooran A., graduating from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., raised a Palestinian flag as she walked on stage to receive her certificate, refusing to shake hands with Blinken and telling the US' chief diplomat that the government should cut all support to Israel. Nooran wrote on her Twitter page that Blinken approached her after the commencement and told her "I hear you", as she called for an independent investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh and said accountability for Israel was essential.
On 11 May 2022, an Israeli sniper fired at the head of the veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh as she reported on an Israeli military raid on a refugee settlement in Jenin (part of the Occupied Palestine Territories). The snipers continued to fire at the journalists who were with her, preventing them from aiding her. When she finally arrived at Ibn Sina Hospital, she was pronounced dead. After Abu Aqleh’s death, the Israeli military raided her home in occupied East Jerusalem, where they confiscated Palestinian flags and attempted to prevent mourners from playing Palestinian songs. At her funeral on 13 May, the Israel Defense Forces attacked the massive turnout of family and supporters – including her pallbearers – and grabbed Palestinian flags held by the crowd.
Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera reporter with more than two decades of experience covering armed conflicts, knew the protocol. She and other reporters remained last Wednesday in the open, clearly visible to Israeli snipers about 650 feet away in a building. Her flak jacket and helmet were emblazoned with the word “PRESS.” There were three shots fired in her direction. The second bullet hit the Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Samoudi in the back. The third shot, al-Samoudi remembered, hit Abu Akleh in the face below the rim of her helmet. There were a few seconds when the Israeli sniper saw profiled in his scope Abu Akleh, one of the most recognizable faces in the Middle East. The 5.56 mm bullet from the M-16, designed to spin end over end upon impact, would have obliterated most of Abu Akleh’s head.
Jerusalem, Israel – As I write these words, the world is trying to make sense of the brutal assassination of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was targeted by Israeli forces while covering yet another Israeli assault on Jenin. Furthermore, Israeli forces have now attacked the funeral procession leading Shireen to her final resting place. One wonders why is anyone surprised. How often have we seen innocent lives taken? How often have we seen the Israeli military attack funeral processions? And yet, for reasons that perhaps cannot be explained, awe, sadness, and despair have descended upon the world with this particular killing. This particular targeted killing of a journalist – not the first and sadly, probably not the last – touched us all. And the response of the Zionist establishment in occupied Jerusalem, as well as in Washington, is cold and full of excuses.
A world renowned journalist Shireen AbuAqleh was intentionally murdered by an Israeli sniper in Jenin. Millions of tears were shed for her including ours at the Palestne Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (palestinenature.org). We planted ten trees in her honor. The constellation of events and circumstances and her background actually were so amazing that it provided a huge dose of sadness but also a big ray of hope for us. Jenin, where she was murdered, is a center of heroic resistance to occupation (resistance not suported by any government, international or even Palestinian). She was a journalist and wearing protective blue journalist vest and helmet. Thus she mobilized the media. She was beloved by every Palestinian home for her coverage of their daily miseries inflected by foreign occupiers for decades.