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US human rights report ignores assassination of Shireen Abu Aqleh

March 22, 2023 at 10:20 am

People gather at the Al Jazeera offices in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 11, 2022 following the killing of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was shot dead as she covered a raid on the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp. [RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images]

The US State Department’s annual human rights report adopted the Israeli occupation government’s account of the assassination of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, and failed to mention the death of an American citizen after he was arrested by Israeli forces last year.

The report, which was issued on Monday, did not describe the journalist’s death as an extrajudicial or arbitrary killing, and only referred to it in the section on freedom of expression, according to Middle East Eye.

Last May, Israeli forces shot and killed Abu Aqleh during an Israeli raid on the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

Her assassination sparked Palestinian outrage and widespread international condemnation.

An investigation by the occupation army into the journalist’s death concluded that it was possible that an Israeli army soldier had shot her, but that she was not deliberately targeted. However, numerous independent investigations found that Abu Aqlah and her colleagues were explicitly targeted despite clearly being members of the press.

The State Department’s report also failed to mention the martyrdom of the 80-year-old American-Palestinian Omar Asaad who died after being placed in Israeli detention.

The New York Times reported that Asaad suffered a stress-induced heart attack that was most likely caused by being gagged at a cold construction site, citing the coroner’s report.

While the assassination of Abu Aqleh did not fall under the extrajudicial killings section, the State Department’s report targeted Israel’s investigations into its security forces, cases of abuse, unlawful and arbitrary killings and restrictions imposed on Palestinians.

According to the report: “The Israeli military and civilian justice systems have rarely found members of the security forces to have committed abuses.”

“There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings,” the report added, noting that “citizens with mental disabilities were at greater risk of being subjected to violence when interacting with police””

When announcing the report during a press conference on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We’re not pulling our punches with anyone as – we call things as we see them.”

However, despite the report, the US continued to provide diplomatic and military support to Israel, support that fuels violence and the abuse of Palestinian rights.

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