The United States Department of Justice (JoD) has made moves to open its own investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli soldiers. The decision came on November 14, and was met with Israeli opposition.
The JoD has informed its Israeli counterpart, the Justice Ministry, that the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) will be looking into the fatal shooting of the Palestinean-American journalist, as reported on Israel’s Channel 14 earlier on Monday.
“[Israeli Defence Forces (IDF)] will not be investigated by any foreign body or foreign country, however friendly,” said Yair Lapid, an Israeli politician and former journalist. “We will not abandon the IDF soldiers to foreign investigation.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also spoke out in opposition of this probe.
“I have delivered a message to the US representatives that we stand behind the IDF soldiers, that we will not cooperate with any external investigation, and we will not enable intervention to internal investigation,” he stated.
He added that the choice of intervention was “a grave mistake” and that the “IDF conducted an independent and professional investigation which was presented to the US.”
Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former DoJ official, claimed that the US had substantial evidence related to the incident’s motive.
“There’s credible evidence in the FBI’s view, based upon things that have been in the public domain — irrespective of Israel’s recalcitrance — to believe that a crime was committed, namely assassination,” Fein told Al Jazeera.
He elaborated: “And secondly, there’s got to be some credible evidence — in my view — that an American citizen, could be a dual citizen, was the one who pulled the trigger.”
Abu Akleh was shot by Israeli forces during her coverage of a raid in the occupied West Bank of Jenin in May 2022, wearing a bulletproof vest marked with “Press”. The correspondent was one of the best known and most prolific reporters on the conflict in the Arab World, according to Al Jazeera.
Both the scope and potential consequences of the investigation remain ambiguous.