By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News
Jerusalem – Last Monday, the Israeli Defense Force released their final conclusions on the death of Palestinian-American Journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh. In their report, they concede there is a “high possibility” that Abu Aqleh was killed by IDF gunfire but refuse to take any further action on the matter.
“After a comprehensive examination of the incident [by Israeli authorities], and based on all the findings, the military advocate general found that under the circumstances of the case, there is no suspicion of a criminal offense that justifies the opening of a military police investigation,” reads the IDF release.
The death of Shireen Abu Aqleh has left many Arab and Arab American observers to wonder what the United States does to protect its Arab citizens abroad. Abu Aqleh, who was working as a member of a clearly-marked group of journalists, was documenting a military operation in the Occupied West Bank of the Palestinian Territories when she was shot and killed.
An independent CNN investigation concluded that the evidence documenting Abu Aqleh’s death indicates she was shot by Israeli soldiers who were situated about 200 meters away from the group of journalists. Eyewitness reports, including from those included within the group of clearly marked journalists, say that the group of soldiers might have been specifically targeting Shireen and the other members of the press.
“Audio and video analysis indicates that the Palestinian-American journalist was shot from a distance of about 200 meters,” reads the CNN investigation. “Israel claims she could have been hit by Palestinian militants, or an Israeli soldier returning fire, during a raid at Jenin refugee camp. But eyewitnesses say there were no armed Palestinians or clashes in her vicinity.”
Israeli reports on the death have indicated that the only way an IDF soldier could have killed Abu Aqleh was if the soldier had been returning fire from Palestinian militants. However this has been challenged by the CNN investigation which states that the only recorded position of Palestinian militants was in the opposite direction.
“Videos obtained by CNN, corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons expert, suggest that Abu Aqleh was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces,” reads the CNN investigation.
Shireen Abu Aqleh was a 25-year veteran of the Arabic-language programming for Al-Jazeera. Her work covering various events, including the second Intifada, has inspired countless Arabs and women to break into the Journalism field.
While covering a raid meant to capture Palestinian militants on May 11, 2022, she was shot in the head by what many press organizations are calling a deliberate act by the IDF.
The Aftermath of the Death of Shireen Abu Aqleh
Immediately following Abu Aqleh’s death, agencies like the United Nations have called for an independent investigation of the killing. Israeli authorities, who conducted an investigation under the partial supervision of the United States government, has concluded that no criminal investigation should move forward.
United States Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has rejected the claims made by the Israeli Defense Force’ investigation, saying they contradict investigations made by press organizations.
“The crux of the “defense” in this IDF report is that a soldier was “returning fire” from militants,” reads a Sept. 5 tweet from Van Hollen. “But investigations… found no such firing at the time. This underscores need for independent US inquiry into this American journalist’s death.”
However, as Al-Jazeera reports, it appears that the Biden administration is hoping to move on from the case of who killed the Palestinian American journalist and why. Instead, the Biden administration has directed Israeli authorities and military bodies to review and revise policies to ensure that civilian casualties are further mitigated.
“The role we’re continuing to play is pressing Israel to closely review its policies and practices to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again,” said Vedant Patel, state department deputy spokesperson.