The Joe Biden Administration has urged Israel’s military to re-examine its rules of engagement, Axios reported, months after a soldier killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was fatally shot during a raid despite identifying herself as a reporter.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the request on a recent phone call with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, according to several unnamed officials from both countries. Blinken reportedly stated that Israel’s rules of engagement either were not followed during the raid that killed Abu Akleh or needed to be reviewed, and also said Tel Aviv should publish its own investigation into her death.
A veteran reporter with more than two decades of experience covering the Israeli occupation, Abu Akleh was among several journalists present for a militarized raid in the West Bank city of Jenin on May 11. During the operation, she was inexplicably shot in the head by an IDF soldier, killing her, while another reporter also ended up with a gunshot wound but survived his injuries.
Despite Abu Akleh’s clearly recognizable press gear – and a long line of prior Israeli abuses against journalists working in the Palestinian territories – the White House concluded her murder was probably unintentional. Shortly after the incident, Biden traveled to Israel as part of a broader Mid East visit, where he proudly declared himself a “Zionist.”
One Israeli official reached by Axios denied that any formal request was ever made by Blinken or the Biden administration, noting that Tel Aviv would have ignored such an ask regardless. “Israel is a sovereign country, and the rules of engagement save lives,” the unnamed official said.