Pope Francis meets with slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's family

"My family and I had the honor of meeting with his Holiness Pope Francis who gave us his blessings and showed sympathy and support towards our pursuit for justice for Shireen," said Lina Abu Akleh.

 A Palestinian girl protests in support of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as US President Joe Biden visits Augusta Victoria Hospital, in Jerusalem (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
A Palestinian girl protests in support of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as US President Joe Biden visits Augusta Victoria Hospital, in Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

Pope Francis met with the family of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's family on Wednesday, her niece Lina Abu Akleh said on Thursday. 

"Yesterday, my family and I had the honor of meeting with his Holiness Pope Francis who gave us his blessings and showed sympathy and support towards our pursuit for justice for Shireen," Abu Akleh wrote on Twitter. 

A memorial mass for the journalist at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin was also held on Wednesday, organized by the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriatchate of Antioch and the Presidential Higher Committee for Churches Affairs in Palestine.

"Yesterday, my family and I had the honor of meeting with his Holiness Pope Francis who gave us his blessings and showed sympathy and support towards our pursuit for justice for Shireen."

Lina Abu Akleh

 Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from a window at the Vatican September 18, 2022.  (credit: VATICAN MEDIA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from a window at the Vatican September 18, 2022. (credit: VATICAN MEDIA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Investigation into Abu Akleh's death

The Abu Akleh family has been seeking criminal justice action for the death of the journalist during a May 11 firefight in Jenin between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. 

In September, the family submitted a formal complaint with the International Criminal Court asking the international community to investigate Abu Akleh's death. 

On July 4, the bullet 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 released a statement saying that Israeli fire had likely killed the journalist.

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 probe, since it would not have been a deliberate action. 

Numerous third party investigations have also been conducted using open source intelligence, and have come to similar conclusions, though some have endeavored to prove that IDF fire was deliberately directed at Abu Akleh knowing that she was a journalist.

“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."