Half of Democrat senators want Biden to act over Abu Akleh killing

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Half of Democrat senators want Biden to act over Abu Akleh killing

The Palestinian journalist was shot dead last month while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank

A picture of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by gunfire on 11 May 2022, in Qatar (Photo: Reuters/Imad Creidi)
A picture of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by gunfire on 11 May 2022, in Qatar (Photo: Reuters/Imad Creidi)

Just under half of all Democratic senators are seeking the “direct involvement” of the United States in the investigation of the death of a Palestinian journalist who was shot over a month ago while covering an Israeli raid on a West Bank refugee camp.

Twenty-four senators signed a letter sent to Joe Biden on Thursday, three weeks before his first scheduled state visit to Israel.

It is the largest action yet from US lawmakers seeking an independent resolution to the May 11 killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was also an American citizen.

Multiple media investigations have independently concluded that she was most likely killed by Israeli soldiers, with The New York Times this week joining the Washington Post, the Associated Press and CNN in reaching the conclusion.

“We believe that, as a leader in the effort to protect the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists, and given the fact that Ms. Abu Akleh was an American citizen, the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted — one in which all parties can have full confidence in the ultimate findings,” reads the letter, which was spearheaded by Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

The letter adds that US intervention is needed because “it is clear that neither of the parties on the ground trust the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation.”

The Palestinian Authority has accused the Israeli military of intentionally targeting Abu Akleh, a claim fiercely disputed by Israel; Israel has said it needs the Palestinian Authority to hand over the bullet that killed her in order to complete its investigation.

Jewish senators who signed the letter include progressives Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Other notable signatories include Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

The letter is also addressed to Jewish Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Jewish Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Haaretz reported that AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, had distributed talking points intended to squash the latest Senate letter on Abu Akleh.

According to AIPAC, the letter “implies both Israeli culpability and inability to conduct an objective, thorough investigation of the incident.”

Abu Akleh’s killing and its aftermath have created an international firestorm and further inflamed already deadly tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli police almost toppled her coffin when they charged mourners who turned her funeral into a protest, and the delayed official Israeli investigation has upset many outside observers.

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