(June 25, 2022 / JNS) Two dozen Democratic senators sent a letter on Thursday calling for the United States to get involved in the investigation into the death of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
A reporter for Al Jazeera, Akleh was shot and killed on May 11 while covering a firefight in Jenin between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian gunmen.
The letter, released by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), claims that there has not been an “independent, thorough and transparent investigation” into Akleh’s death.
According to the senators, the Biden administration should have a role in the investigation due to the U.S. government serving as a leader in efforts to protect the press and because of her American citizenship.
“It is clear that neither of the parties on the ground trusts the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation. Therefore, at this point, we believe the only way to achieve that goal is for the United States to be directly involved in the investigation [into] Ms. Abu Akleh’s death,” they wrote.
While Israeli authorities have blamed her death on crossfire, the senators expressed their skepticism, writing that “a number of respected independent news organizations have reached a different conclusion.” The letter cites reports by The Washington Post, CNN and the Associated Press that concluded that “there was no Palestinian gunfire emanating from the location of the shooting at the time of Ms. Abu Akleh’s killing.”
The letter points out that Israeli military authorities have been barred from examining the bullet that killed Akleh by the Palestinian Authority, which has said it will only provide it to a third party.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) praised the letter, calling it “direct and powerful,” adding that there is “absolutely no excuse” for the Biden administration to not get involved.
“We commend the senators who signed this letter, which sends a clear message that Shireen Abu Akleh’s assassination by Israeli forces cannot be covered up or ignored in the same way so many other brutal acts targeting Palestinians have been in past decades,” CAIR national deputy director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement.
Thursday’s letter is the third one sent by members of Congress to the Biden administration urging them to get involved in the investigation.
On May 19, 57 House Democrats sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI director Christopher Wray. It was followed by a letter sent earlier in June by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), who also called for an independent and transparent investigation.
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