Creating new perspectives since 2009

US calls for 'accountability' in Abu Akleh case ahead of Biden Middle East visit

July 13, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Palestinian paints Abu Akleh mural ahead of Biden visit [Hisham K. K. Abu Shaqra/Anadolu Agency]

The United States called on Wednesday for “accountability” over the death of Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, whose killing during an Israeli West Bank raid is expected to be a major issue during President Joe Biden’s Middle East visit, Reuters reports.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist working for the Al Jazeera network, was shot in the head on 11 May, while reporting on an Israeli raid in the town of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians believe she was killed deliberately by Israeli troops. Israel denies its soldiers shot her on purpose, and say she may have been killed either by errant army fire or a shot fired by a Palestinian gunman.

Washington has, so far, concluded she was probably hit by an Israeli bullet, but says it has no reason to believe it was intentional. Speaking to reporters on board Air Force One with Biden flying to the region, US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, repeated that position but said Washington did not consider the case closed.

“The administration, at the President’s direction, has been very much engaged in helping try to determine what exactly happened around the tragic circumstances of her death,” he said. “There will have to be efforts made in accountability and making sure that we find a way to conclude this chapter justly. This is someone who was a journalist, an American citizen. The President, the Secretary of State, the entire team grieves for the family,” he said.

OPINION: US ambiguity over Abu Akleh’s killing ensures Israel’s impunity remains unchallenged

He said Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, had spoken with the family, and invited them to a meeting in Washington.

Palestinian journalists gathered in Gaza City on Wednesday to call for “justice” for Abu Akleh, one of the most prominent journalists covering the conflict.

“As President Biden visits the region for the first time we are here to demand protection for Palestinian journalists and hold the occupation accountable for the assassination of colleague, Shireen Abu Akleh,” said Mohammad Yassin, Chairman of the Forum of Palestinian Journalists.

Yassin said 50 Palestinian journalists had been killed by Israel since 2000.

Israel says Palestinian gunmen were clashing with its forces at the scene of Abu Akleh’s death, making it difficult to determine the precise circumstances, but that its troops did not shoot her deliberately.

Palestinians say the gunshot wound to her head and other evidence shows she was deliberately targeted. They have vowed to pursue the case before the International Criminal Court.

Israel shoots dead Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, during invasion of Jenin - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Israel shoots dead Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, during invasion of Jenin – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]