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Report: Biden administration asks IDF to review its rules of engagement following journalist's death

Secretary Blinken made the request in a call with Defense Minister Gantz, saying it will be "a step towards accountability"

Slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

The Biden administration wants Israel to reexamine its Israel Defense Forces’ rules of engagement in the West Bank following the death of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May, Axios reported.

The rules of engagement are guidelines that define how military forces should behave during times of conflict and what circumstances justify the use of live fire. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to review these rules as “a step toward accountability in the Abu Akleh case,” Israeli journalist Barak Ravid wrote citing unnamed American and Israeli officials. 

Blinken’s request was made following his meeting the slain journalist’s family in Washington last month. The secretary has also asked the IDF to publish the final conclusions of its own probe into Abu Akleh's killing, said the report. 

Last month, 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. The forensic analysis also concluded that the bullet was too damaged to reach a conclusive finding.

The U.S. holds the opinion that either the rules of engagement were not followed in the case of Abu Akleh or that they need to be reviewed, if indeed it was an Israeli soldier who fired at her despite wearing a journalist gear in the conflict zone. 

According to Axios, Gantz explained to Blinken that situations on the ground are not always “black and white” during military operations.

A senior Israeli official quoted in the article said that there has not been a formal request from the United States to change the IDF’s rules of engagement. Even if such a request would have been made, the Israeli military would have denied it on the basis that ““Israel is a sovereign country,” the source added. 

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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