For months, the US had declined to conduct any investigation into the killing of the Palestinian journalist and accepted the Israeli version calling it an accident. This is despite repeated appeals by Akleh’s family and human rights groups for an inquiry

By Peoples Dispatch

Israel declared that it will not cooperate with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s probe in the murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The probe was announced on Monday, November 14, by the US Justice Department.

BETHLEHEM, PALESTINIAN TERRITORY - NOVEMBER 20 Israeli soldiers fire tear gas in Bethlehem, West Bank, during Palestinian protests against Israeli attacks on Gaza, November 20, 2012

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the US announcement of the investigation a “grave mistake” and asserted that Israel will not cooperate with the probe in any way. He claimed that his government stands with Israeli soldiers and any external investigation amounts to “interference in Israel’s internal affairs,” Times of Israel reported.

The US Justice Department announced on Monday that the FBI is launching an investigation into the killing of the senior Al-Jazeera journalist after refusing it for months after her killing in May.

Akleh’s family issued a formal statement welcoming the investigation and expressing hope that it “will be truly independent, credible and thorough and following the evidence where it leads, up and down the chain of command.”

Various organizations also welcomed the decision, with UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Francesca Albanese calling it the “first step to reverse the abysmal record of impunity.”

Akleh (51), a US citizen, was killed by an Israeli sniper on May 11 when she along with other journalists was covering a raid by the Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. This is despite the journalists wearing full gear identifying themselves as press.

Israel initially denied its role in Akleh’s killing and instead tried to blame Palestinian armed groups for the same. It also offered a ‘joint investigation’. However, after various groups established that the Israeli claims were incorrect and the offer for a joint investigation was rejected as an attempt at whitewashing, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officially accepted in September that Akleh was killed by “mistake” by a bullet “likely fired by an Israeli soldier.”

Various investigations conducted by human rights and media groups, as well as the Palestinian Authority, have established that Akleh was deliberately targeted and killed by an Israeli sniper.

The Joe Biden administration in the US had however denied calls by Akleh’s family and human rights groups for an investigation, claiming that there was no need. In a statement issued in July, the US had even endorsed the Israeli version of events leading to Akleh’s death.