Family of Slain Palestinian Journalist Accuses Biden of 'Betrayal' After U.S. Probe

Shireen Abu Akleh family rages at Biden administration for 'adopting' Israel's investigation into the Palestinian-American journalist's death, calling it an 'extrajudicial killing'

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Tony Abu Akleh, brother of late Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and other mourners attend the memorial service for her at the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple in East Jerusalem, last month.
Tony Abu Akleh, brother of late Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and other mourners attend the memorial service for her at the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple in East Jerusalem, last month.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The family of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Friday slammed the Biden administration's handling of the investigation of her death, and called on the U.S. president to meet with them and divulge all of the information gathered concerning the killing.

In a letter addressed to U.S. President Joe Biden and signed by Abu Akleh's brother Anton on behalf of her family, her siblings and their children refer to her May death as an "extrajudicial killing," and say that the U.S. government has not "adequately consulted, informed, and supported" the family.

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The Abu Akleh family's letter

The U.S. State Department concluded that an analysis of the bullet that killed the Palestinian-American journalist in Jenin "could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding [its] origin." In the statement, the U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price said that "Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion."

Abu Akleh was killed on May 11, during a military raid to arrest Palestinian suspects in the Jenin refugee camp, and at least five major international media outlets have since published detailed investigations of the case, all showing that Israel was likely responsible for the deadly shooting. An Israeli military probe, though, failed to reach a clear conclusion.

In the U.S. investigation, published on Monday, Ned Price added that the investigations carried out by the Israeli military and the Palestinian Authority led American examiners to determine that she had "likely" been killed by gunfire from IDF positions. However, the U.S. Security Coordinator, which oversaw the examination by Israeli experts, "found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad … which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel."

Citing the investigations by international organizations and media outlets, the Abu Akleh family said that "All available evidence suggests that Shireen, a U.S. citizen, was the subject of an extrajudicial killing, yet your administration has thoroughly failed to meet the bare minimum expectation held by a grieving family – to ensure a prompt, thorough, credible, impartial, independent, effective and transparent investigation that leads to true justice and accountability for Shireen’s killing."

Instead, the letter says, "the United States has been skulking toward the erasure of any wrongdoing by Israeli forces." It accuses the United States of not conducting its own investigation or legal analysis, "and merely 'summarizing' – and adopting – Israeli authorities' investigation."

"Nonetheless, your administration deemed it necessary to include and perpetuate the baseless and damaging conclusion that the killing was not intentional, seemingly choosing political expedience over actual accountability for a foreign government’s killing of a U.S. citizen," it reads.

At the letter's close, the family demanded that Biden meet with them during his upcoming Middle East tour, as well as provide them with information gathered during investigations. It also called on U.S. offices to take action "on Shireen's extrajudicial killing" and to support the family's "efforts to push for accountability and justice for Shireen, wherever they take us."

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