Updated Aug 1, 2022 - World

Blinken presses Israel to finalize probe into Shireen Abu Akleh killing

A photo of slain US-Palestinian correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh

A photo of slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, left on a chair ahead of President Biden's joint press conference with Palestinian President Mamoud Abbas in Bethlehem on July 15. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken pressed Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a phone call Saturday to publish the final conclusions of the Israeli military operational investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as soon as possible, two Israeli sources briefed on the call told Axios.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is under pressure from Democratic lawmakers to do more on the issue. In a meeting with Blinken last week, Abu Akleh's family called for a U.S. investigation that "leads to real accountability."

Driving the news: Blinken called Gantz on Saturday and asked when the IDF would finish the operational investigation and publish the final report. The two sources said Gantz replied that it would happen in a few weeks.

  • Blinken told Gantz he met with the Abu Akleh family and stressed the family wants to get more information about what happened, the sources said.
  • Blinken also told Gantz it is important that the investigation is finished as soon as possible and that the conclusions are presented to both the Biden administration and the Abu Akleh family, according to the sources.
  • Last Thursday, the deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, raised the issue in a meeting with the Israeli minister of internal security, Omer Bar Lev, who visited Washington and asked why the investigation was taking so long, the two Israeli sources said.

What they're saying: “Minister Gantz told Secretary Blinken that the IDF is working to complete its investigation of the events that led to the passing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and said that Israel will share the results of the investigation with the U.S. upon its completion," the Israeli Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

  • State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken raised the killing of Abu Akleh and the need for accountability.

Flashback: Abu Akleh was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. The Al Jazeera correspondent was wearing a bulletproof vest that was marked “press.”

  • The Biden administration said earlier this month that Abu Akleh was probably killed by unintentional Israeli fire, but a ballistics test of the bullet fragment removed from her body was "inconclusive."
  • Those findings were based on the U.S. security coordinator's review of both the Israeli and Palestinian investigations, as well as the ballistics test.
  • Israeli and Palestinian officials separately protested the conclusions, and Abu Akleh's family sent a letter to President Biden rejecting the findings.
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