Senators urge US role in probe of Al Jazeera journalist's killing
A group of 24 US senators on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to ensure direct US involvement in the investigation of the killing of an Al Jazeera journalist who was covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank last month.
The lawmakers, all of them Democrats plus two independents, called for “a thorough and transparent investigation under US auspices” into the shooting death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American reporter, in Jenin on May 11.
Israeli and Palestinians officials have exchanged recriminations over the incident, which has heightened tensions.
“It is clear that neither of the parties on the ground trust the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Senator Chris Van Hollen, in a letter to Biden, who is due to visit Israel in July.
“We believe the only way to achieve that goal is for the US to be directly involved,” they wrote.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the US is not conducting an official investigation” but urged both sides to share evidence with each other. “We expect full accountability for those responsible,” the spokesperson added. The Israeli embassy said Israel conducted a thorough inquiry and “continues to call for an investigation with the US in an observer role.”
The Palestinian Authority said in late May its investigation showed Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier in a “deliberate murder.”
Israel denied the accusation.
The Israeli military concluded “unless the bullet is handed over, it is impossible to determine which side fired the fatal shot,” but the Palestinian Authority has refused to do so, the Israeli embassy said.
It denied any Israeli soldier “targeted a journalist.”
The Israeli army had said shortly after the incident that Abu Akleh might have been accidentally shot by one of its soldiers or a Palestinian militant in an exchange of gunfire.