J Street welcomes the US Justice Department opening a formal FBI investigation into the killing of renowned Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied Palestinian Territory. This is a critically important and necessary step toward conclusively determining exactly how and why Abu Akleh was killed and to holding those responsible fully accountable.
Immediately following Abu Akleh’s killing in May 2022, J Street urged the Biden Administration to launch its own thorough, independent investigation. In the months since, it’s become increasingly clear that nothing short of an American-led investigation can hope to deliver Shireen and her family the justice, clarity and closure that they deserve.
We have proudly supported multiple strong calls on the administration by Members of Congress urging the opening of a US investigation. That includes a letter led by Senator Chris Van Hollen signed by 24 Senators and a letter led by Reps. Andre Carson, Lou Correa and Bill Pascrell and signed by 57 representatives. J Street also supports the Justice for Shireen Act, introduced by Rep. Carson this week. It would require a report on Abu Akleh’s death by the Department of State and FBI, in consultation with the Department of Defense and National Director of Intelligence. These congressional leaders should be commended for their determined efforts to secure greater clarity about the killing of an American citizen and respected journalist.
As a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization that strongly supports the US-Israel relationship, we find it deeply disappointing that leaders of the outgoing Israeli government have already stated that they will refuse to cooperate with the US investigation. While outgoing Defense Minister Gantz has claimed that this investigation constitutes “interference in Israel’s internal affairs,” in reality there is nothing “internal” about the death of a Palestinian-American journalist reporting in the occupied Palestinian territory. As an extremely close US ally and major beneficiary of US assistance, Israeli authorities should be open to doing everything they can to fully resolve the killing of a US citizen in territory in which Israel is the occupying power, and to hold those responsible for her death accountable.