'Run out of patience': US senator demands report on Shireen Abu Akleh killing
A US senator lashed out at a top Biden administration official on Wednesday over delays in releasing a summary report on the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, demanding that it be available to review by Friday.
"As you probably know, I've been trying for weeks and weeks now to get a hold of the updated summation report done by the General Fenzel of the [United States Security Coordinator] regarding the shooting death of Shireen Abu Akleh. I just want to tell you, I've run out of patience," Van Hollen said during a Senate budget hearing on Wednesday.
"I expect to be able to view the report wherever you want in a classified setting by Friday. I will otherwise use whatever powers I have here in ways that I've never done before," he warned Barbara Leaf, the US State Department assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.
"I'm a dear friend of the Foreign Service, but I can tell you I'm at the end of my rope in terms of a simple request for a report."
Leaf apologised for the delay, saying the State Department will deliver the report, but did not provide a timetable.
"I understand senator, and I do apologise for the delay and we expect to bring that report forth shortly to the committee for your viewing. I do apologise."
Abu Akleh, who is also a US citizen, was shot dead by Israeli forces on 11 May 2022 while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Her colleague Ali al-Samoudi was also shot and injured.
A statement on the Israeli investigation said "there is a high possibility that Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF [Israeli army] gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen".
The Israeli Military Advocate General's Office said it would not open an investigation into any soldiers involved in the incident as "there is no suspicion that a criminal offence was committed".
'Fully committed to justice'
The killing sparked outrage internationally, and Abu Akleh's family has been trying multiple avenues in order to seek justice, including meeting with the US State Department and submitting a complaint with the International Criminal Court.
Still, one year after the killing, rights groups say there has been little to no movement on achieving accountability for the murder.
Van Hollen has been leading efforts in the US to hold the killers of Abu Akleh responsible.
In addition to sending letters to the Biden administration calling for an independent probe into the shooting, he has drafted amendments to legislation that would require the Biden administration to provide further information on her death.
Earlier this month, the US lawmaker sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding that it release a report from the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) about the killing of the Al-Jazeera journalist for congressional review.
“As I told Shireen’s family today, one year after her killing, I remain fully committed to working with them to get the whole truth, accountability, and justice. We must not rest until we do," he said after meeting with Abu Akleh's niece and nephew.