Shireen Abu Aqleh: family of killed journalist demand meeting with Biden – The Guardian

Posted By on July 12, 2022

The family of Shireen Abu Aqleh, the renowned Palestinian-American journalist killed during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank, is demanding a meeting with President Biden during his visit to Jerusalem this week after accusing his administration of shielding Israel from accountability for her death.

Abu Aqlehs brother, Anton, wrote to Biden on Friday expressing his familys grief, outrage and sense of betrayal after the US sState department concluded that Israeli forces were likely responsible for shooting the Al Jazeera reporter in the head in the West Bank city of Jenin in May but found no reason to believe that this was intentional.

The letter to Biden said the state department assessment was a whitewash given the weight of evidence showing that Abu Aqleh was the subject of an extrajudicial killing by the Israeli military, including a United Nations report that said soldiers fired several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets at her and other journalists

The family accused the White House of adopting the Israeli governments conclusions and talking points in an apparent intent to undermine our efforts toward justice and accountability for Shireens death.

Instead, the United States has been skulking toward the erasure of any wrongdoing by Israeli forces, the letter said.

The journalists niece, Lina Abu Aqleh, told the Guardian that the request to meet Biden after he arrives in Jerusalem on Wednesday has been met with silence from the White House. Abu Aqleh, who said she was very close to her aunt and spoke to her almost every day, accused Washington of placing Israeli interests over discovering the truth about the death of a US citizen.

The US is clearly trying to bury the case. Theyre trying to cover it up, she said.

If Shireen was killed in Ukraine, Im 100% sure the reaction would have been completely different. There would have been action taken from day one. There would have been accountability. There would have been a transparent and independent investigation. And there would have been justice.

The Abu Aqleh family is backed by Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.This much is clear the State Department has comprehensively failed to carry out its mission as it relates to the murder of an American citizen. This failure sends a clear message to the world: some American lives are worth more than others, and some allies have license to kill with impunity, Tlaib said in a statement

Last week, the state department said that the US security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Lieutenant General Mark Schwartz, had been granted full access to the Israeli and Palestinian investigations into the journalists death as well as overseeing an extremely detailed forensic analysis of the bullet that killed her.

The department said the security coordinator concluded that Abu Aqlehs death was the result of tragic circumstances during an Israeli military operation. But it said investigators could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet because it was too badly damaged.

The dead journalists family told Biden that the state department has bought into Israeli claims that she was killed during an exchange of gunfire with Palestinian militants when the UN and other investigations found that Abu Aqleh was not near the fighting at the time.

Your administrations actions can only be seen as an attempt to erase the extrajudicial killing of Shireen and further entrench the systemic impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces and officials for unlawfully killing Palestinians, the family said in the letter to the president.

Lina Abu Aqleh said that the US has failed to provide the family with details of the investigation or how the security coordinator reached his conclusions, and called on Biden to release the information his administration has collected about the killing.

We never felt like we were in the loop or being supported. We did receive condolences. But we need meaningful engagement and action. Thats what were asking for, and we didnt receive it, she said.

The family has asked Biden to withdraw the state departments assessment and to appoint the FBI and other agencies to conduct a full investigation into the killing. It is also seeking clarity on who tested the bullet after the Palestinian Authority agreed to hand it over to the US for forensic testing on condition that the Israelis were not involved. However, the Israeli military claimed that the test was to be carried out by Israeli experts with the US acting as observers.

The White House has been approached for comment.

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Shireen Abu Aqleh: family of killed journalist demand meeting with Biden - The Guardian

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