Relatives of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist shot dead by Israeli forces in occupied Palestine in May, followed up a Tuesday meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken by imploring the Biden administration to pursue justice for the slain Al Jazeera reporter.
“Our family just finished meeting with Sec. Blinken,” Lina Abu Akleh, Shireen’s niece, tweeted. “Although he made some commitments on Shireen’s killing, we’re still waiting to see if this administration will meaningfully answer our calls for #JusticeForShireen.”
In a statement released before the meeting, the journalist’s niece as well as brother and nephew, Tony and Victor Abu Akleh, noted that “our dear sister and aunt Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on May 11, 2022 by an Israeli sniper while on assignment in the occupied Palestinian city of Jenin.”
“She was a prominent, beloved journalist and US citizen,” the statement continued, “yet President [Joe] Biden did not take us up on our request to meet with him during his visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank earlier this month, despite being a mere 10 minutes from our home.”
“Since the president didn’t come to us in Jerusalem to hear firsthand our grief, outrage, and concerns regarding his administration’s lack of response to Shireen’s extrajudicial killing, we decided to come to him,” the relatives added.
We expressed to @SecBlinken how important it was to meet with @POTUS. A meeting with him will demonstrate to our family that Shireen’s case is a priority for this administration. Since he didn’t meet with us in Jerusalem, we came to DC. We need him to hear from us directly.— Lina Abu Akleh (@LinaAbuAkleh) July 26, 2022
In what some critics called a “whitewash,” the US State Department quietly conceded over the July 4 holiday that Abu Akleh was “likely” – but unintentionally – killed by Israeli military gunfire. Separate investigations by United Nations officials, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, CNN, Bellingcat, and the Israeli rights group B’Tselem all concluded the journalist was shot by an Israeli soldier.
The three family members decried the Biden administration’s July 4 statement as “an affront to justice” that “enabled Israel to avoid accountability for Shireen’s murder.”
“This is totally unacceptable to us,” they wrote in their statement, “and it is unacceptable to the countless members of Congress who have echoed our call for justice and accountability.”
I continue to be outraged by the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) July 26, 2022
I was proud to sign a letter echoing the Abu Akleh family’s call for accountability for Shireen’s killing. We must keep up the pressure for a complete, transparent investigation. #JusticeForShireen https://t.co/cBrK9un1MZ
In an interview with Politico Magazine published Tuesday, Tony Abu Akleh said that “we are really disappointed by the US government.”
“We’re hoping for a stronger stand for a US citizen, a prominent journalist killed by an Israeli sniper,” he continued. “We’re disappointed and we hope that there will be a real, independent investigation. A thorough and credible investigation opened by the US government for the killing of Shireen who was also a Palestinian but an American as well.”
“You know, this puts every American in danger if no action is taken and there is no accountability,” Abu Akleh added.
The relatives’ statement similarly warned:
If we allow Shireen’s killing to be swept under the rug, we send a message that the lives of US citizens abroad don’t matter, that the lives of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation don’t matter, and that the most courageous journalists in the world, those who cover the human impact of armed conflict and violence, are expendable. For far too long, the United States has enabled Israel to kill with impunity by providing weapons, immunity, and diplomatic cover. Impunity leads to repetition. We are here to do our part to ensure that this cycle ends.
Among the family’s demands are a meeting with Biden “to discuss the status of Shireen’s case and the administration’s proposed next steps in pursuing justice and accountability,” as well as a “thorough, credible, independent, and transparent investigation into Shireen’s murder.”
Today I welcomed the family of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to offer my condolences, hear about Shireen’s life & work, and join them in urging @SecBlinken to launch a thorough U.S. investigation to ensure accountability for her death. #JusticeforShireen pic.twitter.com/rlTx0R000x— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) July 26, 2022
“The Israeli military killed our beloved Shireen while she was doing the work we’ve always been so proud of her for doing, and they did so in broad daylight, in front of cameras, and then brutally attacked her funeral procession,” the statement concluded. “The world expects answers. Shireen was only 51. She had so much life left to live.”
Brett Wilkins is is staff writer for Common Dreams. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. This originally appeared at CommonDreams and is reprinted with the author’s permission.