Despite calls from the United States on Israel to cooperate in the process of clarifying the story of Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing by Israeli army, Tel Aviv refused and described the idea as interference in Israel’s internal affairs.
This Tuesday, Israel announced that it will not cooperate with an inquiry carried out by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the killing of the Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli army.
In this regard, Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, denounced the investigation as “interference in Israel’s internal affairs” and said he “made it clear to the American representatives that we stand behind the IDF [Israel defense forces] soldiers, that we will not cooperate with any external investigation”.
The 51-year-old Abu Akleh, who was working for Al Jazeera, was shot dead on May 11 during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen that broke out after soldiers raided the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank, amid a wider terror crackdown. The Israeli soldier shot Abu Akleh while she was wearing a vest marked “Press” and a helmet.
Where did the FBI investigation emanate from?
It was on this Monday that the FBI announced it is launching an inquiry into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist. The FBI investigation started as a result of months of pressure from Abu Akleh’s family, who had accused the Biden administration of “skulking toward the erasure of any wrongdoing by Israeli forces”. Several members of the US Congress supported the family back then and demanded immediate action from the Biden administration.
Appreciating the FBI decision to open up an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, the family said in a statement this Tuesday that “this is an important step, a truly independent, credible and thorough probe. It is what the United States should do when a US citizen is killed abroad, especially when they were killed, like Shireen, by a foreign military.”
Members of Congress also welcomed the investigation. Maryland Democratic senator, Chris Van Hollen, for example, said in a tweet following FBI’s announcement that the decision was “an overdue but necessary and important step in the pursuit of justice and accountability in the shooting death of American citizen and journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh,” he tweeted. Good to mention that Van Hollen was highly critical of the failure of Israel to properly account for the killing.
Will US-Israel relations be affected?
Many political experts in and out of the United States believe that an outright failure to cooperate from the part of Israel would surely affect relations between Tel Aviv and Washington and reinforce claims of an Israeli cover-up of Abu Akleh’s death as she reported on a military raid on the West Bank city of Jenin back in May.
For weeks after the killing of Abu Akleh, the IDF insisted on denying responsibility and pointed the finger at Palestinian gunmen. Later investigations by the United Nations in June, however, revealed that it was Israeli armed forces who were responsible for the journalist’s death as it was they who shot her to death. The UN said that Israeli soldiers fired “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets” at Abu Akleh and other journalists.
In September, the IDF finally admitted that one of its soldiers had probably shot her but said it was an accident. But no one, including US Congressmen, didn’t believe in the story as half of the Democratic members of the Senate signed a letter calling into question Israel’s claim.