Shireen Abu Akleh’s family demand accountability post meeting with Blinken

To date, the US has failed to hold its Israeli ally to account for the killing, despite multiple investigations and witness testimonies.

The family of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh continue to demand a “meaningful answer” to their calls for justice following a meeting with US State Secretary Antony Blinken in Washington, on Tuesday.

“Our family just finished meeting with Secretary Blinken. Although he made some commitments on Shireen’s killing, we’re still waiting to see if this administration will meaningfully answer our calls for justice for Shireen,” tweeted Abu Akleh’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh.

Abu Akleh was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper on 11 May while covering the Zionist state’s raids on Jenin, as it seeks to expand its illegal settlements.

The journalist was shot despite being in a flak jacket and helmet, clearly identifying as a member of the press. 

The sniper, who admitted to the crime, had deliberately targeted a precise area in her head that was not covered with the helmet, completely shattering her skull, as per testimonies by her life-long colleague Givara Budeiri.

The bereaved family of the Palestinian-American journalist was invited to the White House earlier this month by the US Joe Biden administration amid mounting pressure to hold Israel accountable for the tragic killing.

Lina said that Blinken assured her family that “he has a duty to protect every US citizen”, and the family will hold him to account for his words. 

“Nothing short of a US investigation that leads to real accountability is acceptable, and we won’t stop until no other American or Palestinian family endures the same pain we have,” she said.

Following the meeting, Blinken tweeted,”Today I met with the family of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, whose fearless journalism earned her the respect of audiences around the world.”

He added that he expressed his “deepest condolences and commitment to pursue accountability for her tragic killing.”

The Abu Akleh’s have also met with other US diplomats, including Minnesota’s Fourth District Representative Betty McCollum, Representative Pramila Jayapal, and Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

Investigations into the killing

While Biden visited Israel and the illegally occupied West Bank between 13 and 15 July, where he met with Zionist and Palestinian officials, he appeared to dodge a meeting with Abu Akleh’s family.

Lina stressed that a meeting with Biden will demonstrate to her family “that Shireen’s case is a priority for this administration.” To date, the US has failed to hold its ally, Israel, accountable for the killing.

This is despite numerous investigations by independent media outlets, video footage and witness testimonies.

“Since he didn’t meet with us in Jerusalem, we came to DC. We need him to hear from us directly. Secretary Blinken committed to transparency with our family going forward, and we expect to be consulted and updated every step of the way,” said Abu Akleh’s niece.

In May, the Public Prosecution’s report on the killing found that Abu Akleh was shot using “an armour-piercing projectile”.

The bullet was later marked as a 5.56 mm round with a steel component used by NATO forces, dismissing Israeli claims that Palestinians fired the bullet.

Earlier this month, the US examined the bullet and claimed that it was likely fired “unintentionally” from Israelis. The US State Department said that it could not reach a conclusion in its investigation due to the ammunition being “badly damaged”.

The probe found the bullet had come from “positions” belonging to Israeli soldiers, with the United States downplaying the killing as “the result of tragic circumstances” during an Israeli raid, “against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad”.

US media outlets have also conducted various investigations, amplifying the testimonies of the witnesses on site, with the most recent probes conducted by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In June, the UN found the bullet had been fired from an Israeli sniper.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on US authorities to follow their meeting with Abu Akleh’s family “with substantive action to investigate her death and bring those responsible to justice.”

“While CPJ welcomes Secretary Blinken’s meeting with Shireen Abu Akleh’s family, the Biden administration has shirked its obligations to her family and to press freedom for too long,” said CPJ Director of Advocacy Gypsy Guillén Kaiser.

Funeral crackdown

The lack of accountability is not limited in the killing of the journalist, but also in mass crackdown on mourners that followed, in particular during her funeral. 

One of the pallbearers carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin was later detained by the Zionist state and was questioned. Tel Aviv media outlet, Haaretz, reported in May that Israel will not be conducting a criminal probe into the funeral attacks.

Qatar has strongly condemned the killing of Abu Akleh and the crackdown on her funeral.

Addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in May, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said that Israel denied Abu Akleh a dignified burial.

“[The] Palestinian-American journalist was killed two weeks ago in Palestine, and then robbed, of a dignified-burial. Shireen was covering the suffering, of the Palestinian people for decades, and our hearts, are broken,” said the amir.

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