Israel will not pursue a criminal investigation into the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, whose death earlier this month sparked global outrage.
Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Palestine, was fatally shot in the head on May 11 while covering an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. She was wearing a helmet and press jacket. Witnesses say she was shot by an Israeli soldier.
“In view of the nature of the operational activity, which included intense fighting and extensive exchanges of fire, it was decided that there was no need to open a military police investigation at this stage,” according to a statement from the military provided to the Jerusalem Post.
Israel-based human rights organization B’Tselem suggested the announcement from the military police criminal investigation division should come as no surprise.
“As B’Tselem has stated again and again: no one should wait for Israel’s ‘investigations’ nor expect that they will deliver justice for Palestinians,” the group tweeted. “It is time for the world to finally wake up to this reality and take action. Anything else simply enables Israel’s impunity.”
In a statement to Al Jazeera, Abu Akleh’s family said, “We were expecting this from the Israeli side.”
“We urge the United States in particular — since she is a U.S. citizen — and the international community to open a just and transparent investigation and to put an end to the killings,” the family said.
The Intercept reported this week that a pair of congressional Democrats, Reps. André Carson of Indiana and Lou Correa of California, are gathering signatures for a letter demanding an FBI investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing and a determination from the State Department as to whether U.S. laws were violated.
Days after Abu Akleh’s death, global outrage erupted after footage showed Israeli fores attacking the pallbearers of her coffin during the funeral procession.
The footage of that violence was “shocking,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who called for “accountability for the terrible killing not just of Shireen Abu Akleh but for all the killings and serious injuries in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
A group of leading artists similarly called Thursday for “full accountability for the perpetrators” of Abu Akelh’s death “and everyone involved in authorizing it.”
In an open letter, figures including Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar, Indian author Arundhati Roy, Canadian author Naomi Klein, and U.S. actor Mark Ruffalo write: “We call on our governments to end their hypocrisy and to act with consistency in the application of international law and human rights. We call on them to take meaningful measures to ensure accountability for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and all other Palestinian civilians.”
“There must be no double standards,” they add, “when it comes to the basic human right to freedom from persecution and oppression and the right to life and to dignity.”
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