US Senator dismisses Israeli military probe on Abu Akleh’s murder

A US Senator has dismissed an Israeli military investigation that claims there is a “high possibility” that veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was “accidentally hit” by an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank four months ago.

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen for Maryland posted a tweet on Wednesday, saying the existing evidence did not support the claim that a soldier accidentally killed Abu Akleh in the midst of a gun battle in Jenin.

Van Hollen said the United Nations and reconstructions by major news outlets had found the female journalist was not in the immediate vicinity of fighting with the Palestinian resistance fighters and could not have been caught in the crossfire.

“The crux of the ‘defense’ in this military report is that a soldier was ‘returning fire’ from armed Palestinians” when Abu Akleh was struck, Van Hollen said. “But investigations … found no such firing at the time. This underscores need for independent US inquiry into this American journalist’s death.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists has labeled the Israeli report “late and incomplete.”

“They provided no name for Shireen Abu [Akleh’s] killer and no other information than his or her own testimony that the killing was a mistake.”

Palestinian officials, rights advocates, and family of the slain journalist have already denounced the findings of the Israeli inquiry.

The journalist’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, said the family had no confidence in the report. “We could never expect any type of accountability or legitimate investigation from the very entity responsible for gunning down an unarmed and clearly identifiable journalist.”

The family said an independent American investigation was “the bare minimum the US government should do for one of their own citizens.” The family also said Abu Akleh’s killing was a “war crime.”

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