Home Politics Shireen Abu Akleh: US Activists Criticize ‘Impunity’ For Israeli Abuses | Israel-Palestine Conflict News

Shireen Abu Akleh: US Activists Criticize ‘Impunity’ For Israeli Abuses | Israel-Palestine Conflict News

by YAR

Washington D.C.- The US State Department often says that it “has no higher priority than the safety of US citizens abroad.”

But on Wednesday morning, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh became the second American this year to be killed by Israel, a major recipient of US military aid and Washington’s closest ally in the region.

State Department spokesman Ned Price was quick to condemn the killing and call for an investigation, but later confirmed that Washington is confident Israel will investigate itself and not call for an independent investigation.

Ahmad Abuznaid, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said the calls for an investigation are “empty gestures” if the investigation is left to Israel.

“You cannot ask the Israelis to investigate themselves when they have abused human rights for more than 70 years and expect them to come to a different result than they have after all these decades,” Abuznaid told Al Jazeera. .

“These are atrocities that the international community has witnessed over and over again, whether caught on live footage or not, and we have never seen accountability.”

On Wednesday, Price said repeatedly when pressed by reporters at a State Department briefing that Israel has “the means and the ability to conduct a thorough and thorough investigation” into the killing of Abu Akleh.

He said it is important to Washington that Abu Akleh’s legacy be responsibly honored. “Those responsible for Shireen’s murder must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Price told reporters.

But recent incidents show that when Israel conducts investigations into misconduct by its own forces, the result is rarely meaningful accountability, Palestinian rights advocates have said.

Despite multiple eyewitness accounts claiming that she was shot by Israeli forces, the Israeli government’s initial reaction to Abu Akleh’s murder was to blame “armed Palestinians” for shooting the journalist.

“History and action have shown that Israel cannot be trusted to investigate its own war crimes and human rights violations,” Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Committee Against Discrimination (ADC), told Al Jazeera. .

“We demand an independent investigation, free from political pressure and influence from US and Israeli interests.”

In January, US citizen Omar Assad, 78, suffered a stress-induced heart attack after Israeli forces arbitrarily detained, bound, blindfolded and gagged him.

At the time, the State Department also called for a “thorough criminal investigation and full accountability” in the case.

In February, the Israeli army called the incident a “clear lapse of moral judgement” and announced administrative disciplinary measures against the battalion involved in Assad’s killing, but did not file criminal charges.

At the time, the State Department suggested it expected more from the investigation, saying the United States continues to “discuss this troubling incident with the Israeli government.”

But since then, US officials have said almost nothing about the killing of the elderly US citizen. Asked for an update on the case on Wednesday, a State Department spokesman shared comments that Washington had released earlier this year expressing condolences for Assad’s family.


Meanwhile, US officials have continued to praise Israel. And this year, Washington increased its $3.8 billion annual military assistance to Israel by an additional $1 billion to “replenish” the Iron Dome missile defense system after the May 2021 conflict with Gaza.

When Israel bombed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera building in Gaza during that conflict, the State Department asked for additional details to support Israel’s claim that the tower was being used by Hamas operatives.

To date, the US administration has not condemned the bombing of the Gaza building housing media offices or provided an assessment as to whether it was justified.

On Wednesday, Price was asked about the attack on the building a year ago in the context of Israeli attacks on the media and the killing of Abu Akleh. He said: “We expressed our concern that journalists were at risk, that their offices were attacked,” adding that those concerns remain with us today.

Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington-based think tank, said calls for research are welcome, but it is the outcome of such research that matters.

“The question is what happens next?” Berry told Al Jazeera. “That’s the key here. What will they do next? Do we expect the Israeli forces to investigate themselves and find that there was a ‘moral lapse in trial’ or that no mistake was made?

The Biden administration has maintained that Israel is equipped to investigate its own alleged war crimes, an argument used against Palestine’s push for the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli abuses.

For his part, Berry denounced Israel’s lack of accountability by the US, even as it abuses US citizens.

“Sadly, because we give Israel an exception in its treatment not only of American citizens, in its human rights abuses, but certainly when it comes to its treatment of Americans, it will not come to a rational explanation of what it is allowed to do with impunity, against the interest of protecting Americans and certainly against our own American interests abroad,” Berry told Al Jazeera.

As a candidate, Joe Biden promised a more impartial approach to the conflict in outreach efforts to Arab and Muslim American voters, despite categorically ruling out conditional aid to Israel.

“Joe Biden believes in the value of every Palestinian and every Israeli,” the Biden campaign said on its platform for Arab Americans in 2021. “He will work to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity , and democracy.”

Variations on that comment still surface in statements from the State Department and the White House. Yet Palestinian rights advocates say Biden has done little, aside from resuming some humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, to change his predecessor Donald Trump’s policies on Israel-Palestine.

Amer Zahr, a Palestinian-American comedian and president of New Generation for Palestine, an advocacy group, said the killing of Abu Akleh was a “targeted killing.”

“The lukewarm response from our State Department confirms what we already knew: The Biden administration cares no less about the lives of Palestinians, American or not,” he told Al Jazeera.

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