Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) objected to Tel Aviv’s finding in the murder of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. In May, Abu Akleh was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper. On Monday, Tel Aviv concluded that one of its soldiers likely unintentionally shot Shireen, but no criminal investigation will take place. Van Hollen called for the US government to carry out an official inquiry.
Abu Akleh was a dual Palestinian-American citizen and a 25-year veteran journalist. She was murdered while covering an Israeli Defense Forces raid in the Jenin refugee camp. In the report released by Tel Aviv, it says “there is a high possibility that M. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF [Israeli army] gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen.”
Senator Van Hollen questioned this conclusion, noting reports by CNN, the UN and other Western outlets which found there was no fighting in the area when Shireen was killed.
“The crux of the “defense” in this IDF report is that a soldier was “returning fire” from militants. But investigations [by the] New York Times, AP, CNN, Washington Post & UN found no such firing at the time.” He added, “[t]his underscores [the need for an] independent US inquiry into this American journalist’s death.”
After the report was released, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said, “[w]e underscore the importance of accountability, such as policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents in the future.” A second State Department official specified the White House was hoping Tel Aviv would review its rules of engagement in the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid firmly denied the American request saying no one will dictate policy to Israel. The US provides $3.8 billion per year in military aid to the Jewish State.
Shatha Hanaysha, a contributor to Middle East Eye, was with Abu Akleh when she was murdered. “What happened was a deliberate attempt to kill us. Whoever shot at us aimed to kill,” she told MEE shortly after the shooting. She also reported that there were no Palestinian fighters or militants nearby and described the location where Abu Akleh was shot as “a relatively open area.”