A veteran Al Jazeera journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering Jenin on 11 May.
Twenty-four US senators called on President Joe Biden to ensure Washington’s direct participation in the investigation into the killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the hands of Israeli forces.
The latest appeal from US lawmakers comes after the Biden administration retracted Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s statement in early June that the United States wanted an “independent” investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh while covering a raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on May 11. .
The US State Department later told Al Jazeera that it stood by its previous position that Israel should lead the investigation and had repeatedly urged that the investigation be fair and transparent.
Several witnesses said that Abu Okla was killed by Israeli fire, an account that was carried out through several investigations. The Palestinian Authority and Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based, blamed Israel.
In the letter delivered Thursday, the lawmakers, all of whom are Democrats and two independents who rallied with the party, called for a “comprehensive, transparent, American-sponsored investigation” into the killing of Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American who wore “press.” jacket when hit.
The letter comes as Israeli and Palestinian officials have been at odds over how to conduct the investigation. The Palestinian authorities reject any Israeli intervention, arguing that it would not be a fair and transparent investigation. Rights groups have called for an independent investigation.
Israel initially denied that its soldier was killed by a Palestinian gunman, saying that Abu Uqla may have been killed by a Palestinian. She later retracted her position and said she could not rule out the possibility that an Israeli soldier had fired the shot.
The Israeli investigation focused on one soldier, although it has not yet reached a conclusion as to whether anyone will face criminal charges over the murder. The results have not been published after an internal investigation.
In early June, the Palestinian Authority called on Israel to hand over the rifle that fired the bullet that killed Abu Okla.
Meanwhile, Israel has previously asked the Palestinian Authority to supply it with the bullet taken from the veteran journalist’s body so that Israel can conduct its ballistic investigation. The Palestinian Authority refused the request.
Today, 24 of us are calling Tweet embed Ensuring direct American participation in the investigation into the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, so that all parties can trust the results and to ensure accountability. pic.twitter.com/HqwOFm4zg0
Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) 23 June 2022
“It is clear that neither side on the ground trusts the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation,” US senators, headed by Senator Chris Van Hollen, wrote in a letter to Biden, who is due to visit Israel in July. .
“We believe that the only way to achieve this goal is for the United States to participate directly,” they wrote.
A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said the United States was not conducting a formal investigation, but urged the two sides to share evidence with each other.
“We expect full accountability for those responsible,” the spokesman added. The Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. said Israel had conducted a thorough investigation and “continues to call for an investigation with the United States as an observer.”
Al Jazeera Media Network announced on May 26 that it had assigned a legal team to refer the murder to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The case was recently handed over to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. However, the current status of the investigation remains unclear.
Adding to doubt about Israel’s ability to conduct a fair investigation, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last week, citing sources, that no police would be punished for attacking mourners and carrying the coffin at Abu Akle’s funeral.
On Sunday, hundreds of people attended a memorial event in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Abu Okla’s killing, with many describing the outsized influence that Al Jazeera’s advocate had in the region, and calling for accountability.