J Street is deeply saddened and alarmed by the killing of renowned Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, an American citizen, while she was reporting on an IDF raid and clash with armed militants in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Multiple eyewitness accounts from Abu Akleh’s colleagues stated that she was killed by gunfire from Israeli forces.
While the IDF has stated that it will investigate, we urge the Biden Administration to launch its own thorough, independent investigation into the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death, and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that those responsible for it are held fully accountable. It’s important to note that another Palestinian-American, Omar Assad, died after being detained and bound by Israeli forces in the West Bank earlier this year. J Street has also called for an independent US investigation into Assad’s death, as have US lawmakers, including a review of the systemic practices of Israeli forces in occupied territory to determine whether and how US-sourced materiel and munitions are used in such incidents. In addition to working to uphold the human rights of all Israelis and Palestinians, it is critical that the US government act decisively to protect the safety of all American citizens.
The tragic death of this respected journalist is the latest incident in the alarming, ongoing deterioration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent months. A surge in horrific attacks by Palestinian terrorists has killed nineteen Israelis and wounded many others in recent months. Palestinian civilians not linked to those attacks have been killed or wounded by Israeli forces in the West Bank during the same period.
In the face of this dangerous escalation, it is critical that US policymakers ask what our government can and should be doing to help finally break this destructive cycle, to ensure Israel’s security and future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, and to guarantee the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and safety in an independent state of their own.