Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with family members of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Tuesday, where they encouraged him to launch a second investigation into her death that would lead to “real accountability” for the perpetrators.
Lina Abu Akleh, the journalist’s niece, wrote on Twitter after the meeting that she hoped the Biden administration would “meaningfully answer our calls for #JusticeForShireen,” using a hashtag that trended widely after Abu Akleh’s death in early May. She also repeated an earlier request for a meeting with President Joe Biden, which she claimed would demonstrate the earnestness of the United States to seek justice for the killing of a U.S. citizen.
“Nothing short of a U.S. investigation that leads to real accountability is acceptable,” she wrote. “We won’t stop until no other American or Palestinian family endures the same pain we have.”
The Abu Akleh family had earlier sought a meeting with Biden during his visit to the Palestinian Territories during his tour of the Middle East earlier in July. Biden did not meet with the family at the time, but Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas raised the issue of Abu Akleh’s killing and the subsequent U.S. investigation during his meeting with the American leader. During Biden’s visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also reportedly urged Biden to hold Abu Akleh’s killers accountable in response to Biden’s admonishment of the crown prince for his alleged involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Al Jazeera, the Palestinian Authority, and the New York Times have claimed that Abu Akleh—who was wearing a flak jacket with the word “PRESS” clearly visible at the time of the incident—was shot and killed by Israeli security forces. Israeli officials initially claimed instead that the journalist had been shot by Palestinians, and an Israeli investigation of the incident failed to come to a conclusion regarding responsibility for the shooting. A subsequent U.S. investigation of the bullet involved also came up inconclusive, claiming that it had been too damaged to determine its source. Although the American investigation acknowledged that Israeli forces were “likely responsible,” it also framed the incident within the context of Palestinian terror attacks and suggested that it had been the “result of tragic circumstances” rather than the definitive responsibility of Israel.
Abu Akleh’s family disputed the U.S. findings, with Lina Abu Akleh describing it as “not an investigation” and “damaging to the truth” in a later interview.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.