Just under half of all Democratic senators on Thursday wrote to President US Biden to ask for the “direct involvement” of the United States in the investigation of the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was shot dead on May 11 while covering clashes between IDF soldiers and terrorists in Jenin.
24 senators signed Thursday’s letter to Biden, reported JTA. The letter is the largest action yet from US lawmakers seeking an independent resolution to the killing of Abu Aqleh.
“We believe that, as a leader in the effort to protect the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists, and given the fact that Ms. Abu Akleh was an American citizen, the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted — one in which all parties can have full confidence in the ultimate findings,” reads the letter, which was spearheaded by Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, as quoted by JTA.
The letter adds that US intervention is needed because “it is clear that neither of the parties on the ground trust the other to conduct a credible and independent investigation.”
Jewish senators who signed the letter include Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Other notable signatories include Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The letter is also addressed to Jewish Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Jewish Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Thursday’s letter comes three weeks after a bipartisan group of 25 members of Congress called on the Biden administration to demand that the Palestinian Authority provide access to forensic evidence in Abu Aqleh’s death, so that an independent investigation can take place.
Israel has maintained that it is possible that an IDF soldier accidentally shot Abu Aqleh but it is also possible that she was shot by terrorists who were engaged in a firefight with IDF troops at the time and were firing wildly.
Israel has stated that without access to the bullet which killed her it is impossible to know which side fired the shot. PA has refused Israel’s request to launch a joint probe to investigate the incident.
PA chief prosecutor Akram Khatib recently released the findings of the PA’s investigation into the death of Abu Aqleh, who was shot during clashes between IDF soldiers and terrorists in Jenin, and claimed that she was shot by IDF forces.
The PA report came two days after CNN published a report in which it similarly claimed that Israel was responsible for Abu Aqleh’s death.
Al Jazeera recently showed what it claimed was the bullet that killed Abu Aqleh, presenting a 5.5 mm bullet, designed to pierce armor, and claimed it is used in an M4 rifle.