A group of 57 Democrat lawmakers penned a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday requesting an American-led investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
“We request the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launch an investigation into the death of Ms. Abu Akleh,” the group of lawmakers wrote.
Abu Akleh was shot and killed last week while she was covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. Israeli initially blamed Palestinian gunmen for her death but later backtracked and said they would investigate where the bullet came from.
But Palestine has refused to hand over the bullet, calling for an international investigation.
“The Israeli military claimed that the victims were caught between gunfire between Palestinian militants and Israeli Defense Forces. However, media and eyewitnesses had conflicting reports,” the US lawmakers wrote on Friday.
They welcomed the statements and actions taken by the Biden administration, which have condemned Abu Akleh’s death and called for an investigation. But the Biden administration has said that Israel was capable of carrying out a thorough investigation on its own.
“However, given the tenuous situation in the region and the conflicting reports surrounding the death of Ms. Abu Akleh, we request the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launch an investigation into Ms. Abu Akleh’s death,” the lawmakers wrote.
They also called on the State Department to determine whether any US laws protecting Abu Akleh, an American citizen, were violated. “As an American, Ms. Abu Akleh was entitled to the full protections afforded to US citizens living abroad,” they said.
“We have a duty to protect Americans reporting abroad,” read the letter co-led by Congressmen Andre Carson, Bill Pascrell and Lou Correa.
Israeli forces were also criticized for their violence during Abu Akleh’s funeral procession.
While her casket was being carried, hundreds of Palestinians were seen hoisting the Palestinian flag and chanting. Shortly after, Israeli forces rushed at the mourners, attacking them with batons, including the pallbearers and leading to the coffin dropping.
Blinken released a statement saying that the US was “deeply troubled to see the images of Israeli police intruding into her funeral procession.”