Blinken meets relatives of slain US-Palestinian journalist

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Tuesday with the family of a Palestinian-American journalist killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

The State Department said Blinken met with relatives of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and vowed the United States would demand “accountability” for her death.

“The Secretary is deeply grateful for the opportunity to meet Shireen’s family,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “Not only was she an American citizen, but she was also a journalist whose fearless pursuit of the truth earned her the deep respect of audiences around the world.”

Price said Blinken would use the meeting “to extend to Shireen’s family our deepest condolences for her tragic death and to reiterate the priority we place on accountability, something we continue to discuss with our Israeli and Palestinian partners as well.” “.

He cannot, however, say what this responsibility might mean.

After reviewing investigations by Israeli and Palestinian authorities, the United States concluded on July 4 that Abu Akleh was likely killed by Israeli fire, but not intentionally. But he did not categorically blame Israel for his death and left the question of responsibility to the Israelis, angering the Palestinians and his family.

Relatives – including his brother Tony Abu Akleh, his niece Lina Abu Akleh and his nephew Victor Abu Akleh – have sought to meet with President Joe Biden to plead for pressure on Israel to account for his death. Blinken invited them to Washington after Biden was unable to see them during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this month.

“We are in Washington, DC, to insist on a thorough, credible, independent and transparent American investigation into the murder of our dear Shireen by the Israeli military,” the family said in a statement. He called the US July 4 conclusion “an affront to justice” that “allowed Israel to avoid accountability for Shireen’s murder.”

“This is completely unacceptable to us,” they said. “If we gloss over Shireen’s murder, we send the message that the lives of American citizens abroad don’t matter, that the lives of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation don’t matter. and that the world’s bravest journalists, those who cover the human impact of armed conflict and violence, are enduring.

A reconstruction by the Associated Press lent support to Palestinian eyewitnesses who said she was shot by Israeli forces without making a final decision. Investigations by CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as monitoring by the UN human rights office, reached similar conclusions.

Abu Akleh, who was 51, had spent a quarter of a century documenting the harsh realities of life under Israeli military rule. The Palestinians regard her as a martyr of journalism as well as of their national cause.