Shireen Abu Akleh: Calls to 'bring perpetrators to justice' continue year after journalist's killing
On the one-year anniversary of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Democracy for the Arab World (Dawn) is calling on the Biden administration to make public the US security coordinator's report and to publicly acknowledge the FBI investigation into Akleh’s murder.
“One year on, not one question about Shireen's murder has been addressed by the US government. Congress has sent letters and asked for confidential hearings, while her family, media outlets and press freedom, journalists and human rights organizations have worked to expose what really happened and who is responsible,” Adam Shapiro, director of Advocacy at Dawn, said in a statement.
“Accountability is achievable, but requires the Biden administration to fulfil its own responsibilities to protect American citizens' lives and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Abu Akleh, who had worked for 25 years for Al Jazeera Arabic, was shot dead by Israeli forces on 11 May 2022 while covering an Israeli raid in Jenin.
Israel had initially said Palestinian gunmen may have been responsible for the death but then backtracked on its statement.
Her death sparked Palestinian outrage and widespread international condemnation. Since the killing, investigations by Middle East Eye, The Washington Post, The New York Times, as well as international bodies and the United Nations, concluded that Israeli forces had in fact likely killed Abu Akleh.
Two weeks ago, Michael Fenzel, the US security coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, sent the State Department an updated summary report about Akleh’s killing.
On 1 May, Senator Chris van Hollen requested the report's release to Congress. However, a State Department official indicated that "before the congressional release of the USSC Report is authorized, the Administration plans to make unspecified changes to its contents".
A 'duty' to protect journalists
In a statement on Thursday, Hollen said he remains committed to getting accountability and will continue pressing the administration.
“One year after her killing, we still do not have a transparent, independent investigation. As President Biden recently made clear at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, we have a duty to protect American citizens around the world,” Hollen said.
“As he also said, we have a duty to help protect journalists who work to present the facts and report the truth. That's why we must not rest until we get all the facts about the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.”
Abu Akleh’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh and her family have been at the forefront of demanding accountability for her aunt for the past year.
Last July, the family spent a week in Washington DC meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and several lawmakers in Congress, after Biden rebuffed a request to meet with Abu Akleh's family during his visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank in early July.
In a statement released on Thursday, she said her family will continue to pursue justice “from the halls of the US Congress to the International Criminal Court”.
“We… know that accountability requires action. For us, it means that those responsible for Shireen’s killing, from the soldier who pulled the trigger all the way up the chain of command, are held accountable,” she said.
She noted that accountability means transparency. She wants the full truth about the killing of Akleh to be made public and made sure that this never happens to another journalist.
“It’s been an entire year since our Shireen was murdered, and our family shouldn’t have to wait another day for justice.”