The family of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has accused the United States of providing Israel “impunity” for her killing and asked to meet President Joe Biden in person during his trip to Israel this week.
In a letter to Biden posted on Twitter on Friday, the family said the US administration simply adopted the Israeli government’s conclusions, which describing her death as extrajudicial killing, while falling short of its own stated goal of ensuring full accountability.
“Your administration’s engagement has served to whitewash Shireen’s killing and perpetuate impunity,” said the letter, signed by her brother Anton Abu Akleh on the family’s behalf. “It is as if you expect the world and us to now just move on. Silence would have been better.”
Shireen, a veteran journalist for Al Jazeera, was killed on May 11 while covering an IDF raid on a refugee camp in Jenin. The IDF has said she was fatally shot during a gun battle between its soldiers and armed Palestinians. It has not completed its investigation.
Was Abu Akleh killed by Israeli military fire?
The Palestinian Authority and Shireen’s family have accused IDF soldiers at the scene of deliberately targeting Shireen, explaining that there were no gunmen near where she stood.
Israel has denied all claims that IDF soldiers intentionally targeted Shireen.
Ballistic tests done on the bullet by the office of the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) were inconclusive, because the bullet was so physically damaged that it was not possible to link its signature markings with a rifle.
The PA has refuted this statement and insisted that the bullet was not damaged and that their evidence proves she was shot by an IDF soldier.
The US announced the inconclusive ballistic tests on July 4, explaining that it believed Shireen’s shooting was accidental and that her death was likely caused by gunfire from a nearby IDF position.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told journalists that the USSC investigation was not at the level of a criminal probe.In their letter to Biden, the Abu Akleh family asked to see all the evidence and information the US has that relates to Shireen’s death.
Family asks to see all evidence on Abu Akleh's death
The family further asked the US to retract its July 4 announcement “given that it is not based on any credible evidence.”
“Direct the Department of Justice, including the Human Rights and Special Prosecution Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other relevant US officers or agencies to take action.”
Finally, the family said, it expected the Biden administration to support their efforts to push for “accountability and justice” for Shireen.
A group of 24 US senators in Biden’s Democratic Party last month urged him to ensure direct US involvement in the investigation of Abu Akleh’s killing.