Over 20 US senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday calling for Washington to be “directly involved” in investigating the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed over a month ago while covering Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank.
“Since that time, there has been no significant progress toward the establishment of an independent, thorough, and transparent investigation into her killing,” read the letter, obtained by Al Arabiya English, signed by 24 Democrat senators.
The US has repeatedly said that Israel was capable of carrying out a thorough, independent investigation and has refused to get involved. Washington has also called on Palestinian and Israeli officials to work on the investigation together.
Palestinian officials have rebuffed Israeli offers for a joint investigation and refuse to hand over the bullet believed to have killed Abu Akleh.
Today, 24 of us are calling upon @POTUS to ensure direct U.S. involvement in the investigation into the shooting death of American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, so that all parties can have confidence in the findings and to ensure accountability. pic.twitter.com/HqwOFm4zg0
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) June 23, 2022
“In order to protect freedom of the press, a thorough and transparent investigation under US auspices must be conducted to get to the truth and provide accountability for the killing of this American citizen and journalist,” read the letter, led by Senator Chris Van Hollen.
Abu Akleh, a reporter for Al Jazeera, was shot and killed while reporting on the Israeli military raid in Jenin with Palestine and her outlet accusing the Israeli military of killing her. Video footage showed Abu Akleh, 51, wearing a flak jacket with “Press” clearly visible. Israel has rejected responsibility.
As her casket was being carried the next day, hundreds of Palestinians were seen hoisting the Palestinian flag and chanting. Shortly after, Israeli forces rushed at the mourners, attacking them with batons, including the pallbearers and leading to the coffin dropping.
On Thursday, the US lawmakers told Biden that the American government had an obligation to ensure an impartial and open investigation into her killing. “It is clear that neither of the parties on the ground trust the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation,” the letter read, referring to Palestinians and Israelis.
“Therefore, at this point, we believe the only way to achieve that goal is for the United States to be directly involved in investigating Ms. Abu Akleh’s death,” the senators said.
This letter comes after a similar letter from over 50 members of Congress demanded the State Department and FBI launch their own investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.
Thursday’s letter said the senators “join in that request,” especially after “new information that has emerged in recent weeks.”
They were referring to investigations by The Washington Post, CNN and The Associated Press, which all concluded that “there was no Palestinian gunfire emanating from the location of the shooting” when Abu Akleh was shot and killed.