Family of slain US-Palestinian journalist meets with Blinken

The family of Palestinian American journalist Shireen abu Akleh was in Washington on Tuesday to press officials for justice and a full account of the veteran journalist’s death in an Israeli military raid in May.

Abu Akleh’s uncle, niece and others close to him met for several hours with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and members of Congress, including the senator. Robert Menendez (DN.J.), the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The family said after the visit that they remained disappointed and frustrated.

“We are here to demand justice and a credible investigation from the United States,” the journalist’s 27-year-old niece, Lina abu Akleh, said in an interview after meeting Blinken. “Only the United States can hold Israel accountable. They have the power.

She said she walked out “no promises, no commitments” from Blinken.

While wearing a bulletproof vest emblazoned with the word “PRESS”, Shireen abu Akleh was shot in the head during the raid on the Palestinian city of Jenin. Israel initially said it believed the Palestinians had fired the fatal shot. But investigations by the United Nations, several US media outlets, and ultimately a US government-led team concluded otherwise.

But US officials have been cautious in assigning blame, which has fueled the family’s frustration.

In its most definitive statement, released July 4, the State Department said the fire “most likely” came from Israeli “positions.” He said there was no indication the shooting was “intentional”, but did not explain how that conclusion was reached since the soldiers involved in the incident were not interviewed.

Lina abu Akleh said Blinken offered his condolences and promised “transparency” and “better communication” with the family, but no concrete action.

“We want the soldier who pulled the trigger to be held accountable,” she said. “We want the person who gave the order to be held accountable. We want to change the system that allowed this to happen.

She later said in a tweet that Blinken “told us he had a duty to protect every American citizen.”

“We will hold it back,” she said. “Nothing less than an American investigation that leads to real accountability is acceptable, and we won’t stop until no other American or Palestinian family has endured the same pain as us.”

The Israeli army continues to occupy or control parts of the West Bank, where dozens of Palestinians have been killed this year, along with smaller numbers of Israelis.

Blinken did not immediately comment on the meeting. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States continued to push for a “credible and transparent” investigation, but let Israel take the lead.

“It is our collective goal to do everything we can, working with our [Israeli and Palestinian] partners, to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Price said.

Abu Akleh was a veteran journalist in the Palestinian territories who worked for the Al Jazeera television network for a quarter of a century. She was a household name to Palestinian families throughout the region.

Her relatives are convinced that the Israeli forces deliberately targeted her due to evidence showing that the gunfire continued even after she languished on the ground. Israel denies being targeted.

“She was the voice of Palestine, the voice of truth, exposing Israeli crimes,” said Lina abu Akleh.