Israel Calls Us Investigation Into Journalist’s Killing “Terrible Mistake” and “Will Not Cooperate”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz criticized the Biden administration on Monday for opening a probe into the shooting death of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May.
Israel previously admitted that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shot the Al Jazeera journalist while she was reporting on an Israeli security raid in the West Bank, but that the live fire was most likely inadvertent.
Gantz called the US Department of Justice’s decision to begin an investigation “a horrible error.”
“The IDF performed an unbiased and competent investigation,” the defense minister tweeted.
“I made it plain to the American delegates that we support the IDF soldiers, that we will not participate with any external probe, and that we will not tolerate involvement in Israel’s internal affairs,” he continued.
Gantz’s remarks came after Axios reported that the Justice Department was beginning an investigation, citing Israeli and American official sources.
This decision followed pleas from Abu Akleh’s family for the US government to adequately investigate the veteran journalist’s death.
“Our sympathies remain with the Abu Akleh family as they lament this enormous loss,” a State Department official said in a statement.
Shireen was not only an American citizen, but she was also a gutsy reporter whose journalism and the quest for truth earned her the admiration of audiences worldwide.”
Other questions were forwarded to the Department of Justice by the State Department.
In response to The Hill’s inquiries, the FBI had no comment.
Fifty-seven House Democrats and 23 Democratic Senators had already called on the administration to undertake an independent investigation, expressly requesting that the FBI conduct the investigation.
“In order to defend press freedom, a full and transparent inquiry under US auspices must be performed to ascertain the truth and deliver accountability for the execution of this American citizen and journalist,” the senators stated in their June letter.
“This is an overdue but necessary and vital step in the pursuit of justice and accountability in the shooting death of American citizen and journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” stated Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). I will keep pushing for the complete information and truth in this issue.”
The State Department had attempted to walk a tight line between supporting Israeli security interests — the IDF has been conducting a months-long counterterrorism operation in the West Bank — and demanding accountability for Abu Akleh’s killing.
In September, Israeli officials condemned comments by State Department deputy spokeswoman Vedant Patel, who said that Israel should evaluate “its policies and procedures on norms of engagement” as part of efforts to hold the journalist accountable for his death.