More than 50 US lawmakers on Friday called on the FBI to investigate the killing of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank despite Israeli promises of an investigation.
The 57 members of the House of Representatives, a largely Democratic leaning led by Representative Andre Carson, noted that Abu Okla held US citizenship and cited differing accounts of how she died on May 11.
“Given the fragile situation in the region and the conflicting reports surrounding Ms. Abu Okla’s death, we request the State Department and the FBI to open an investigation into Ms. Abu Okla’s death,” they wrote in a letter.
They wrote to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray: “As an American, Mrs. Abu Akleh was entitled to the full protections afforded to American citizens living abroad.”
Al-Jazeera and Palestinians said that Israeli forces killed prominent journalist Abu Oqla while she was covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.
Israel says she may have been killed by Palestinian or stray Israeli soldier fire.
The Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Herzog, said he was “disappointed” with the letter and that Israel had sought a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority that would include the role of a US observer.
“Our invitation has been categorically rejected by the Palestinian Authority, which is cynically using the death of Mrs. Abu Akleh to incite an anti-Israel propaganda campaign,” he said.
Instead he called on Congress to pressure the Palestinian side to conduct an investigation, adding that Israeli forces would “never intentionally target journalists.”
The US State Department said it believed Israel could conduct a credible investigation, but Blinken also criticized the Israeli police for using force during Abu Akle’s funeral.
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