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Shireen Abu Akleh: Senate Democrats demand US investigate killing

Letter marks the third effort by members of congress calling for investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera reporter
Palestinian youth remember slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Gaza City, on 17 May 2022 (AFP)

Two dozen US senators have called on President Joe Biden to ensure Washington is "directly involved" in investigating the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, 24 senators called for the State Department and FBI to launch an "independent investigation under US auspices to determine the truth" about the Palestinian American's killing.

Shireen Abu Akleh: US media probes one killing but not countless other Israeli crimes
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Abu Akleh, 51, was shot dead by Israeli forces on 11 May near the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank while covering an Israeli raid. Her colleague Ali al-Samoudi was also shot and injured. 

Israel had initially said Palestinian gunmen may have been responsible for the death but then backtracked on its statement, saying it was still unclear what transpired.

Eyewitnesses, including MEE correspondent Shatha Hanaysha, said Abu Akleh was targeted by an Israeli sniper. Al Jazeera has said Abu Akleh was "assassinated in cold blood".

"The US government has an obligation to ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted - one in which all parties can have full confidence in the ultimate findings," read the letter, led by Senator Chris Van Hollen.

"In order to protect freedom of the press, a thorough and transparent investigation under US auspices must be conducted to get to the truth and provide accountability for the killing of this American citizen and journalist," the senators said.

Calls have grown both in the US and internationally for an independent investigation into Abu Akleh's killing.

More than 50 US lawmakers signed a letter last month calling on the FBI and State Department to intervene and lead a probe.

A CNN investigation into Abu Akleh's killing concluded that "there was no active combat, nor any Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to her death" and that the evidence "suggests that Abu Akleh was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces".

The Associated Press has also carried out a reconstruction of Abu Akleh's killing and reported that their findings lend "support to assertions from both Palestinian authorities and Abu Akleh's colleagues that the bullet that cut her down came from an Israeli gun".

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has refused to hand over the bullet to Israel, saying Israel could not be trusted to investigate the conduct of its military. Rights groups have also said Israel has a poor record of investigating the conduct of its forces in relation to Palestinian deaths.

Al Jazeera has referred the case to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and vowed to bring the killers to justice through all international legal platforms.

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