Shireen Abu Akleh’s family to meet with Blinken in Washington | Israel-Palestine conflict News
From Washington, DC, slain Al Jazeera journalist’s relatives renew calls for accountability and independent US probe.
Family members of Shireen Abu Akleh are set to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to renew their demands for accountability for the killing of Al Jazeera journalist, who was shot by Israeli forces in May.
The family is in Washington, DC to raise the issue again. Lina Abu Akleh, the journalist’s niece, confirmed on Twitter that family members were about to meet with Blinken at the State Department on Tuesday.
“We are in front of the US State Department; we’re about to enter a meeting with Secretary Blinken, and we are here to demand justice for Shireen,” Lina Abu Akleh, dressed in black – except for a lapel pin of her late aunt’s picture – said in a brief video message.
In a statement first reported by Politico earlier in the day, the family reiterated its call for a “thorough, credible, independent and transparent US investigation” into the killing of the veteran reporter who was an American citizen.
Abu Akleh’s relatives had called for a meeting with Joe Biden when he visited Israel and the occupied West Bank earlier this month, but the US president did not grant their request.
“Since the President didn’t come to us in Jerusalem to hear first-hand our grief, outrage and concerns regarding his administration’s lack of response to Shireen’s extrajudicial killing, we decided to come to him,” the Abu Akleh family said.
On July 4, the State Department acknowledged that the fatal bullet that struck Abu Akleh likely came from an Israeli army position, but it framed the killing of the journalist as the unintentional “result of tragic circumstances”.
The US administration also said a “detailed forensic analysis” of the bullet concluded that it was too damaged to determine its source.
Although video footage, witness testimonies, and multiple investigations by independent media outlets have shown that there were no armed Palestinians in the area where Abu Akleh was killed, the US statement emphasised the context of the Israeli raid and shooting as a response to “a series of terrorist attacks in Israel”.
At a joint news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on July 15, Biden vowed to “continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting” for the killing of the journalist.
But amid pledges of continued unconditional US support to Israel in meetings with Israeli leaders, where the killing of Abu Akleh was not brought up publicly, press freedom and Palestinian rights advocates cast doubt on the president’s statement.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) “cautiously” welcomed Biden’s pledge to ensure accountability for the killing earlier this month. But it said the group is “disappointed” that the president did not commit to a probe by the FBI or meet with the slain journalist’s family during his visit.
“The Biden administration must understand that the campaign to bring real justice for Shireen is not going away and that any perception of indifference towards journalists would be a huge disservice to the human rights the US president claims to cherish,” Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator, said in a statement at that time.
Meanwhile, the Abu Akleh family has been emphasising congressional efforts, including numerous letters to the Biden administration, calling for an independent probe into the incident.
“It’s worth noting that, to date, 24 U.S. senators and 57 members of the House of Representatives have called on the Biden administration to initiate a thorough, credible, independent, and transparent US investigation into Shireen’s killing, and we are grateful to every single one of them,” the family said in its statement on Tuesday.
“We will be meeting with some of these members this week, and we thank them for making time to discuss next steps around Shireen’s case.”