The FBI has opened an investigation into the death of Palestinian-American journalist who was killed by a mistakenly fired Israeli bullet, sources familiar with the matter told Axios on Monday.
Shireen Abu Akleh’s death from “unintentional fire” by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier had already been confirmed by at least three separate entities, Axios reported. However, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Israel’s foreign ministry recently that the FBI had opened the investigation into the incident, an unusual move that could involve requests by the U.S. to investigate Israeli soldiers, five sources briefed on the investigation told the outlet.
The Biden administration has faced pressure from Democratic lawmakers and the family of Abu Akleh to hold Israel accountable for the reporter’s death from gunshot wounds sustained on May 11 while covering an IDF military operation on a refugee camp in the West Bank. Later that month, over 50 members of Congress signed a letter invoking Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray to open investigations into the circumstances of the killing, Al Jazeera reported. (RELATED: Israel Destroys Palestinian Bomb Lab, Kills Terrorist Ringleader)
“However, given the tenuous situation in the region and the conflicting reports surrounding the death of Ms. Abu Akleh, we request the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) launch an investigation into Ms. Abu Akleh’s death,” a draft of the letter circulating on Capitol Hill read, according to Al Jazeera. “We also request the U.S. Department of State determines whether any U.S. laws protecting Ms. Abu Akleh, an American citizen, were violated.”
However, Israel would likely reject any request from the Biden administration to conduct a separate investigation on Israeli troops, according to Axios.
Israel’s Channel 14 first reported the FBI investigation Monday, according to Axios. The DOJ and Israeli foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
“Our thoughts remain with the Abu Akleh family as they grieve this tremendous loss. Not only was Shireen an American citizen, she was a fearless reporter whose journalism and pursuit of truth earned her the respect of audiences around the world,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council told Axios.
The Biden administration’s preliminary review of the incident in July identified the bullet that took Abu Akleh’s life likely originated from an IDF soldier’s weapon but stopped short of attributing malicious intent.
The investigative team “found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, in Jenin, which followed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel,” Price said, according to Axios. He added that the U.S. had unobstructed access to ongoing IDF and Palestinian Authority investigations.
Israel’s military concluded in September there was a “high probability” that one of its soldiers accidentally shot and killed Abu Akleh.
The Israeli Embassy did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The FBI declined to comment.
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