Shireen Abu Akleh's family submits complaint against Israel to ICC

Abu Akleh's family accussed Israeli soldiers of deliberately targeting Shireen and another Al Jazeera journalist, citing new footage released that day by the Palestinian NGO Al Haq.

Palestinians protest in support of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as US President Joe Biden visits Augusta Victoria Hospital, in Jerusalem, July 15, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Palestinians protest in support of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as US President Joe Biden visits Augusta Victoria Hospital, in Jerusalem, July 15, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

The family of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh submitted a formal complaint with the International Criminal Court asking the international community to investigate the journalist's death, they announced in a statement on Tuesday.

The Abu Akleh family accussed Israeli soldiers of deliberately targeting Shireen and another Al Jazeera journalist, citing new footage released that day by the Palestinian NGO Al Haq and Forensic Architecture. 

What do we know about Shireen Abu Akleh's death so far? 

The investigation claimed to have created a visual approximation of what an Israeli marksman that may have shot Abu Akleh would have seen from a suspected firing position. The recreation shows a blue vested individual with the barely legible text "press" on the plate carrier. The investigators alleged that this proved that the soldier knowingly shot at a civilian to kill

"The evidence is overwhelming. It's been over four months since Shireen was killed," the family said in a statement. "Our family shouldn't have to wait another day for justice."

 Shireen Abu Akleh (credit: AL JAZEERA) Shireen Abu Akleh (credit: AL JAZEERA)

"The evidence is overwhelming. It's been over four months since Shireen was killed. Our family shouldn't have to wait another day for justice."

Shireen Abu Aklehs family

The request for an ICC investigation comes in tandem with a call for an independent American investigation, which the family said it would continue to demand.

"The US still has an obligation to investigate and take meaningful action for one of their own citizens. But when an individual state fails to protect its own citizens, it's the responsibility of the international community to protect them instead.

On July 4, the bullet — that killed Abu Akleh during a May 11 Israeli-Palestinian Jenin firefight — was tested by a third party and overseen by the US Security Coordinator. While the test was inconclusive due to the damage to the projectile, the US State Department spokesman Ned Price released a statement saying that Israeli fire had likely killed the journalist.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre assured on September 6 that there would be accountability for the death, but didn't specify what this entailed. The following day, brief controversy ensued in Israel when deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that the US would press Israel to review its policies, practices, and rules of engagement

This was dismissed by Israeli leaders as detached from the realities of combat on the ground. At The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York in mid-September, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said that Israel can decide for itself regarding its rules of engagement.

"It's obvious that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes," said the Abu Akleh family on Tuesday. "There must be consequences when a military kills civilians — if not, it affords Israel's military, and any other military, the impunity to do this once again."

"It's obvious that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. There must be consequences when a military kills civilians — if not, it affords Israel's military, and any other military, the impunity to do this once again."

Shireen Abu Aklehs family

Israel's own investigation into the incident ended on September 5, concluding that it was likely that an IDF soldier fired the killing bullet. However, the military also dismissed the need for a criminal problem, since it would not have been a deliberate action. 

“There is a high possibility that Shireen was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. "Another possibility remains that Abu Akleh was hit by bullets fired by Palestinian militants."

The Abu Akleh family has been highly critical of the US and Israel throughout the investigation process, and the claim that the IDF deliberately killed the journalist far predates Tuesday's statement and the new Al Haq-Forensic Architecture investigation.

Al-Haq is one of the six Palestinian NGOs designated by Israel as a front for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization.

"No other Palestinian, American or Journalist's family should have to endure what ours has," the family concluded in Tuesday's statement. "We're pursuing accountability to make sure that is the case."