May 11, 2022 - World

U.S. presses Israel and Palestinians to launch joint probe into journalist's death

A group of Palestinian journalist gather to protest the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
A group of Palestinian journalists gather to protest the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Biden administration is pressing Israel and the Palestinian Authority to engage in a joint investigation into the death of Palestinian American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh as soon as possible, according to three sources briefed on the issue.

State of play: Israel told the Biden administration it is ready for a joint investigation with Palestinian and U.S. officials, while the Palestinian Authority has not given a clear answer yet, the sources said.

  • Meanwhile, Ibrahim Milhim, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority, told Al Jazeera that Palestinian officials "reject and refuse the participation of any Israelis in this kind of investigation."

Driving the news: Abu Akleh, a veteran reporter, was killed early Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

  • The Palestinian Ministry of Health and Al Jazeera, including journalists who witnessed the incident, said she was killed by Israeli gunfire.
  • After initially claiming Abu Akleh may have been killed by Palestinian gunfire, the Israeli military backtracked, saying “at the moment, it is not possible to determine from which fire Abu Akleh was killed."

The big picture: State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned the killing of Abul Akleh, an American citizen, and called for "immediate and thorough" investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable.

  • U.S. ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield said in a briefing to reporters in New York that the Biden administration is “encouraging both sides to participate in that investigation so that we can get down to why this happened."
  • Biden administration officials are concerned Abu Akleh’s death could lead to a further escalation of violence in the West Bank.

Behind the scenes: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke twice on Wednesday with Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian minister for civilian affaires, and proposed holding a joint investigation. Two senior Israeli officials said Al-Sheikh didn’t give a clear answer.

  • Biden administration officials also spoke to al-Sheikh and stressed they wanted to see a joint investigation, two sources briefed on the issue said.
  • The Israeli military asked Palestinian Authority security officials for a summary of the autopsy and the shrapnel of the bullet that was extracted from Abu Akleh’s body, Israeli military official said.

Go deeper: Palestinian American Al Jazeera journalist killed in the West Bank

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