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FBI launches probe into death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Israel’s Defense Minister Gantz calls the U.S. decision a ‘mistake,’ refuses to cooperate

Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh (Photo: Twitter)

In a blow to Israel’s diplomatic efforts, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a near-unprecedented inquiry into the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, according to local media reports. 

Jerusalem officials confirmed on Monday a report by Israel’s Channel 14 news, that the United States Justice Department informed Israel’s Justice Ministry about the opening of an investigation earlier this month. According to The Times of Israel, “the US decision represents an about-face after the Biden administration insisted for months that it would not be opening its own investigation, instead relying on probes conducted by the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel would not cooperate with the foreign probe and called the U.S. decision to investigate the incident a “mistake.” 

“The IDF has conducted a professional, independent investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the details were shared,” Gantz said. “I have delivered a message to U.S. representatives that we stand by the IDF’s soldiers, that we will not cooperate with an external investigation, and will not enable intervention to internal investigations.”

In recent months, dozens of U.S. lawmakers – including Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – called on the Biden administration to prompt the FBI investigation. Ynet reported that Israel expressed disapproval about the U.S. intention to investigate, to no avail.

Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh, 51, was killed last May while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin that involved a firefight. Jenin has seen a sharp rise in terrorist activity in recent months.

In July, the U.S. released a statement saying that Abu Akleh was likely shot by Israeli fire but that there was no evidence indicating she was targeted intentionally, Israel’s forensic analysis, conducted after the P.A. investigation, concluded that the bullet was too damaged to reach a conclusion. 

American officials notified Abu Akleh’s family about the FBI investigation, according to Israel’s Kan 11 news.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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