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Shireen Abu Akleh’s family welcomes news of US investigation

Abu Akleh’s family has been calling for accountability since the journalist was killed by Israeli forces in May.

Shireen Abu Akleh’s family says they are “encouraged” by the US announcement of an investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera’s Palestinian-American correspondent in May.

In a statement released Tuesday, the family said the US decision, first reported on Monday, was necessary considering Abu Akleh’s citizenship and the fact that she was killed “by a foreign army.”

Israeli forces shot dead Abu Akleh, 51, in the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin, where he was reporting on an Israeli raid.

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Video footage, multiple witnesses, and multiple investigations by independent media outlets showed that there were no armed Palestinians in the area where Abu Akleh and other journalists were standing before Israeli soldiers began shooting at them, despite initial claims by Israel that Abu Akleh may have been shot in the crossfire. between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters.

Israel finally admitted in September that one of its soldiers probably killed Abu Akleh, but said no criminal investigation would take place.

The United States had initially resisted attempts to launch an investigation into Abu Akleh’s assassination, arguing that Israel could conduct its own investigation.

But the US Department of Justice has now informed its counterpart in Israel that the FBI is opening an investigation into the incident, according to an Axios report on Monday.

Details about the investigation are unclear and a Justice Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment from Al Jazeera on Monday.

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The Israeli government has responded by criticizing the United States and insisting that it will not cooperate with the investigation.

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“The decision by the US Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the tragic death of Shireen Abu Akleh is a mistake,” said Benny Gantz, Israel’s outgoing defense minister.

Israel is ready for a new government after former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was given the mandate to form a government after his coalition won elections held on November 1.

Responsibility

In their statement, Abu Akleh’s family said they were “ready to support” the investigation, adding that they hoped it would be “truly independent” and “[follow] Where does the evidence lead… towards accountability”.

The family has waged an international campaign in the six months since the assassination of the veteran reporter, one of the biggest names in Arab journalism.

That campaign has included meetings with US government officials, an official complaint at the International Criminal Court, and a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

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Speaking to Al Jazeera on Monday, Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former justice department official, said the decision to launch an FBI investigation indicates the United States has “credible evidence” to believe a murder was committed.

Fein added that the United States could pressure Israel in a number of ways to cooperate, including military aid and regional geopolitics.

“Those kinds of levers can change the mindset of the Israelis,” Fein said.

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