The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Senators call for investigation into killing of U.S. journalist in West Bank

Shireen Abu Akleh was a veteran Palestinian American reporter for Al Jazeera. (Al Jazeera Media Network/AP)
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Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) sent a request to the State Department on Monday for a “full and transparent investigation” into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist who was killed while reporting on an Israeli military raid in the West Bank last month.

The two senators also urged the Biden administration to ensure “justice is served.”

“The killing of a U.S. citizen and of a journalist engaged in the work of reporting in a conflict zone is unacceptable,” the senators wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Arab American journalists around the world shared stories of slain reporter Shireen Abu Akleh’s impact and legacy in the wake of her killing on May 11. (Video: Joshua Carroll, Leila Barghouty/The Washington Post)

“Press freedom is a core American value, and we cannot accept impunity when journalists are killed in the line of duty,” they wrote.

The State Department did not respond overnight to a request from The Washington Post for comment about the letter or whether the Biden administration would launch an investigation into the killing of a U.S. citizen.

Last month, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Israel had the “wherewithal and the capabilities to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation.”

For Palestinian journalists, a colleague’s death hits close to home

Israel at first blamed Palestinian militants for killing Abu Akleh before saying it would investigate the possibility that one of its soldiers killed her. Witnesses to the episode said she was shot by Israeli forces, but Israel says it has not determined who killed her.

Al Jazeera, where Abu Akleh was a veteran reporter, as well as other reporters who were with her when she was killed, said it was clear that Israeli troops fired the fatal shots. The Associated Press found in a review that evidence suggested “the bullet that cut her down came from an Israeli gun.”

Abu Akleh was a household name in the Arab world, and she was killed while wearing a helmet and a flak jacket labeled “Press.”

Al Jazeera said last month that it would refer the case to the International Criminal Court, having assigned a legal team to bring the case to The Hague.

Al Jazeera to refer killing of American journalist to war crimes court

At Abu Akleh’s funeral procession in Jerusalem, Israeli police set off stun grenades and beat mourners with batons — even striking the pallbearers — before her coffin could reach its final resting place.

Israeli police used batons and stun grenades to push back the funeral procession for Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem on May 13. (Video: Steve Hendrix/The Washington Post)

Ellen Francis contributed to this report.