President Joe Biden said on Friday the United States insisted on a “full and transparent accounting” of the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank. .
The United States determined earlier this month that Israeli army fire was “probably responsible” for Abu Akleh’s death in May, but there was “no reason to believe it was intentional,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price. Price said a “definitive conclusion” could not be reached due to the condition of the ball. Following the US findings, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said it was “not possible to determine the source of the shooting”, echoing earlier official Israeli claims that a Palestinian militant could be responsible for his murder.
Palestinian officials and family members of Abu Akleh have criticized the US investigation and are urging the United States to do more to hold Israel accountable for the murder.
Abu Akleh was a household name in the Arab world, having spent decades reporting on the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Footage obtained by CNN – corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons expert – suggested that Abu Akleh, who was wearing a helmet and blue protective vest marked “Press” at the time of his murder, was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces.
Biden on Friday called Abu Akleh’s death a “huge loss” as he stood alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the West Bank.
“I hope his legacy…inspires more young people to continue his work of reporting the truth and telling stories too often overlooked. The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent account of his death and will continue to defend media freedom everywhere,” Biden said.
He added: “She was an American, an American citizen and a proud Palestinian and she was doing very vital work in an independent media, vital work of democracy.”
On its journey through Bethlehem to meet the Palestinian leader, Biden’s motorcade passed a giant mural of Abu Akleh, painted on the high concrete wall built by Israel to separate it from the West Bank.
The image included the word “justice”, which was written on the bulletproof vest Abu Akleh is wearing in the photo.
Other posters of the correspondent had also been hung across the city.
In the presidential compound, where Biden met Abbas, many Palestinian journalists and television technicians wore identical T-shirts bearing an image of Abu Akleh in his memory.
And during the press conference held after the meeting of the two leaders, a chair in the front row was left empty, except for a large photo of the deceased journalist.
Abu Akleh’s family wrote an open letter to Biden, saying his administration had failed to fully investigate his murder and requesting a meeting with the president. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently spoke with the family of the late journalist and invited them to come to the United States to meet him in person, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said this week.
Several Democratic senators wrote a letter in Blinken this week, saying the US review of Abu Akleh’s murder failed to meet the standards of an “independent and credible investigation”, according to a statement by Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen posted on Twitter. The letter was signed by Van Hollen and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin from Illinois, Patrick Leahy from Vermont and Chris Murphy from Connecticut.
CNN is among at least five outlets that have conducted investigations suggesting the shot that killed Abu Akleh was fired from a position where only Israeli troops were present. None of the investigations found evidence of Palestinian militants near Abu Akleh when she was shot, or of militants who had a direct line of fire towards her. An investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Office came to the same conclusions as the journalistic investigations.
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