Questions remain year after journalist Shireen Abu Akleh killed in West Bank

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A Palestinian walks past a mural of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem in 2022. The one-year anniversary of her shooting death Thursday sparked more calls for an independent probe into her death. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UP | License Photo

May 11 (UPI) — Journalists, the Carter Center and others on Thursday reiterated calls for an official investigation into the fatal shooting of reporter Shireen Abu Akleh on the one-year anniversary of her death in the West Bank.

Abu Akleh, a veteran Palestinian-American journalist working for Al Jazeera, was covering an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on May 11, 2022, when she was killed by gunfire.

Israeli and United Nations investigations concluded that the bullets likely came from Israeli military gunfire. The Israeli government admitted in September there was a “high possibility” that Abu Akleh was hit by its forces but has claimed the death was accidental and has since refused to pursue any further investigation.

Published reports, however, have since cast doubt on Israel’s contention. A Washington Post investigation concluded last year the fatal shot came from an Israeli soldier during a moment of relative calm, not during the heat of battle as Israel has claimed.

The incident also fit a pattern of 20 reporters — 18 of whom were Palestinian — whose deaths can be attributed to the IDF since 2001, the newspaper found. No one has been charged or held accountable for any of them.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the family of Abu Akleh last year, promising a “commitment to pursue accountability for her tragic killing.” The FBI in November opened an investigation but has not provided any further information about the probe.

The anniversary of Abu Akleh’s death was marked in Washington in an event held by the National Press Club.

Abu Akleh “learned how to keep safe while publishing news in risky areas,” said NPC President Eileen Drage O’Reilly. “She wore her vest marked ‘press’ and her and helmet and followed all of the safety protocols that meant she should have been safe. But she was killed exactly one year ago today.”

Journalists, she said, “are still waiting for an independent and impartial investigation into what happened one year later. Saying the shot came from the direction of the IDF, or that there was no intent, is not justice.”

Her call was echoed by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

“As President [Joe] Biden recently made clear at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, we have a duty to protect American citizens around the world,” he said. “As he also said, we have a duty to help protect journalists who work to present the facts and report the truth. That’s why we must not rest until we get all the facts about the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.

“One year later, I am still committed to getting the full truth about her killing and getting accountability — and I will not stop pressing until we have them.”

The Carter Center also urged the more action on the case in a statement issued Thursday.

“This highlights the urgent need for the United States to prioritize journalists’ safety and bring to justice those responsible,” the group said.

“We urge the U.S. government to release the complete and unedited U.S. security coordinator report to members of Congress under appropriate classification and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

“I am appalled that we are marking the one-year anniversary of Shireen’s killing and that Israel has yet to pursue any credible investigation into her killing,” said Frane Maroević, executive director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute.

“Shireen’s killing represents a deeply disturbing attack on the press, not least because of credible reports that she and other journalists were intentionally targeted by Israeli forces, but also in light of rampant impunity for crimes against journalists by Israel in the occupied Palestine territory,” he added in a statement.

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