US cannot abandon Shireen Abu Akleh, says RSF on eve of Biden visit to Israel and West Bank
As US President Joe Biden prepares to set off for a visit to Israel and the West Bank tomorrow, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the US authorities to do their duty to render justice to one of their citizens, the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, by opening a criminal investigation into her West Bank shooting death two months ago.
“The United States must not abandon Shireen Abu Akleh, a citizen of their country,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “It is incomprehensible that, at this stage, the US authorities still haven’t begun a criminal investigation and still haven’t done their duty to defend and protect a US citizen, as is usually the case with Americans who are the victims of crimes of violence abroad. We call on the competent authorities, such as the FBI, to open an investigation as soon as possible.”
Biden’s visit to Israel and the West Bank, where Al Jazeera’s star reporter was fatally shot while reporting in Jenin on 11 May, comes a week after the US State Department said the US authorities had “found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances.”
Abu Akleh’s family describe her as “a role model and mentor for aspiring Palestinian female journalists and a trusted colleague of many in the local and international media” in the letter they sent to Biden on 8 July.
“We (...) write to express our grief, outrage and sense of betrayal concerning your administration’s abject response to the extrajudicial killing of our sister and aunt by Israeli forces,” the letter says. “Not only have we not been adequately consulted, informed and supported by US government officials, but your administration’s actions exhibit an apparent intent to undermine our efforts towards justice and accountability for Shireen’s death.”
The letter points out that, contrary to the findings of the US and Israeli authorities, the United Nations, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Associated Press, Bellingcat and B’Tselem have all concluded that, on the basis of the evidence available, it was an Israeli soldier who fired the shot that killed Abu Akleh.“This doesn't end here," Abu Akleh’s niece Lina said in a tweet on 4 July.