US Foreign Minister meets journalist’s relatives after State Department refuses to blame Israeli troops for her death
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said those responsible for the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh will be held accountable as her family members continue to demand action and insist that she has was killed by Israeli troops.
After meeting relatives of Abu Akleh on Tuesday, Blinken voiced his “sincere condolences” and make a “commitment to pursue responsibility for his tragic murder”, but did not specify what further steps could be taken.
State Department spokesman Ned Price then pointed out “the priority we give to responsibility” in relation to Abu Akleh’s death, but also provided a few other details on how the White House plans to proceed or what was discussed during the meeting with Blinken.
Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh was shot while covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank last May, despite bearing prominent markings indicating she was a member of the hurry.
While the United Nations and a series of media and humanitarian organizations investigated the incident and concluded that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire, an official US investigation said he “could not reach a definitive conclusion” about who pulled the trigger. Although he acknowledged that the Israeli forces were “probably responsible” the report says there is no evidence that she was intentionally murdered, consistent with later comments by Israeli officials.
The journalist’s family was very critical of the American investigation, saying that they were “incredulous” of his inconclusive findings, and continued to press for consequences for Abu Akleh’s killer.
Following Tuesday’s meeting with Blinken, the journalist’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, declared that while the official “made commitments on the murder of Shireen,” his family is “I am still waiting to see if this administration will meaningfully respond to our calls for justice for Shireen.”
“[Secretary Blinken] told us that he had a duty to protect every American citizen. We’ll keep him for that.” she continued. “Nothing less than an American investigation that leads to real accountability is acceptable, and we won’t stop until no other American or Palestinian family has endured the same pain as us.”
Israel exculpates itself for the murder of a Palestinian journalist
While the Joe Biden administration has made few public statements to date on whether it lobbied Israeli officials on the matter, Blinken reportedly raised the issue privately during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. at the beginning of the month. According to Israeli officials contacted by Axios, however, the government has no plans for further action on the matter beyond an already ongoing military investigation, and criminal charges are unlikely.
The Israeli military, for its part, initially suggested the journalist was killed by a Palestinian militant, but later said it was unable to determine who fired the fatal shot. Nevertheless, he said “conclusively” that the Israeli troops sheltered “no intention to harm” Abu Akleh and did not deliberately shoot him during the raid.