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Family hails US decision to probe journalist Abu Akleh’s death

The family of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was likely killed by an Israeli soldier, praised a US decision to open a probe into her death.

“This is an important step,” a statement from the Palestinian-American family said on Tuesday, voicing hope for a “truly independent, credible and thorough probe”.

Abu Akleh was killed while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank on May 11.

The veteran reporter was wearing a bulletproof vest marked “Press” and a helmet when she was shot in the head in the Jenin refugee camp, a historic flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The Israeli army conceded on September 5 that one of its soldiers had likely shot Abu Akleh after mistaking her for a militant. 

The Abu Akleh family noted that it had been asking for a US probe “since the beginning”. 

“It is what the United States should do when a US citizen is killed abroad, especially when they were killed, like Shireen, by a foreign military.”

READ MORE: Israel calls US probe into journalist killing a ‘mistake’

Israel won’t cooperate 

Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Israel “will not cooperate with an external investigation”. 

“The decision taken by the US Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the tragic passing of Shireen Abu Akleh, is a mistake. The IDF (Israeli army) has conducted a professional, independent investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the case details were shared,” Gantz said in a statement.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said it always believed “some form of international intervention” would be required to secure justice for Abu Akleh’s death. 

No prosecution

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has refused to confirm or deny the investigation.

But Politico reported that the FBI was probing the May 11 shooting.

Just days after her death, dozens of Democratic party lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding an inquiry, saying the US government had a “duty to protect Americans reporting abroad”.

The Israeli army’s top lawyer has said that criminal charges against the soldier likely involved in the shooting were not merited, as the individual was acting in what Israel considered to be an active combat zone.

Last week, Abu Akleh’s family and colleagues told UN investigators that she had been deliberately targeted as part of Israel’s “wide-scale war” on Palestinian media workers, and called for accountability and justice.

How Shireen Abu Akleh inspired a generation of female reporters

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