The Times of Israel: “The US decision represents an about-face after the Biden administration insisted for months that it would not be opening its own investigation.”
President Joe Biden’s Justice Department and the FBI have launched an investigation that will look into the actions of Israeli security forces in the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an ambush by Palestinian gunmen six months ago.
This is probably the first time a U.S. administration has opened a probe against Israeli security forces. The Associated Press noted that “an FBI probe into Israeli actions would be a rare, if not unprecedented, step.”
Israel’s caretaker government rejected the Biden administration’s decision. Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the FBI probe a “grave mistake.” The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “conducted an independent and professional investigation, which was presented to the Americans,” he wrote on Twitter.
The decision taken by the US Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the tragic passing of Shireen Abu Akleh, is a mistake. The IDF has conducted a professional, independent investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the details were shared.
— בני גנץ – Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) November 14, 2022
The Al Jazeera journalist died of a gunshot wound on May 11 as she reported from the West Bank city of Jenin, a stronghold of terrorist groups like the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
The Israeli soldiers, who were looking for a terror suspect amid a string of deadly attacks inside Israel, were forced to exchange fire as they were ambushed, most likely by gunmen belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist outfit backed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which runs the government in the West Bank, investigations suggest.
The finding of the official Israeli investigation was inconclusive. Still, the country’s military said in a statement that the Al Jazeera reporter may have been “accidentally hit by IDF gunfire fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire.”
The public broadcaster NPR reported the details of the investigation:
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the fatal shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Israel confirmed Monday, condemning the probe as a “grave mistake” and vowing not to cooperate.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz made the statement on Twitter, saying Israel has made it clear to the U.S. “that we won’t cooperate with any external investigation.”
“We will not allow interference in Israel’s internal affairs,” he added. A Palestinian who covered Israeli operations in the Palestinian territories for years, Abu Akleh was also a U.S. citizen.
A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Gantz’s statement. It was not immediately clear when the investigation might have begun and what it would entail. But a probe by the U.S. into Israeli actions was a rare step that could shake the strong alliance between the two countries.
@Now14Israel reported that the FBI has opened a probe of IDF soldiers who fought in the battle vs. Islamic Jihad terrorists in which Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed while embedded with the terrorists.
Now we learn the FBI worked with the instigators of Jan 6.
— Caroline Glick (@CarolineGlick) November 15, 2022
The timing of the FBI probe is highly contentious. The decision was made public just days after the Israeli president tapped former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government. The left-wing U.S. Democrats, particularly members of the squad, are angered at the prospect of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister returning to power with a solid right-wing majority.
“But a probe risks straining the strong partnership between the U.S. and Israel at a time when Israel is bracing for the formation of its most right-wing government in history and as progressive Democrats in the U.S. have called for a more skeptical stance toward one of Washington’s closest allies,” AP News noted Tuesday.
US AMB Michael Oren re: FBI investigating Israel over the death of Shireen Abu Aqla
Since 1990, 2,700 reporters have been killed in wars/conflicts. 700 by US forces in the Mideast. No one has been investigated by the FBI, with the exception of Pakistani terrorists and now Israel https://t.co/OaacygxCMR
— Jewtastiq | Ron (@jewtastiq) November 15, 2022
The investigation marks a drastic shift in the Biden White House’s policy towards Israel. “The US decision represents an about-face after the Biden administration insisted for months that it would not be opening its own investigation, instead relying on probes conducted by the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. It had hitherto accepted the Israeli conclusion,” The Times of Israel noted.
The probe comes after a massive political campaign in Washington. “There has been intense pressure for a US probe from Abu Akleh’s family, as well as Democratic members of Congress, including several relatively moderate lawmakers who are known for their strong support for the US-Israel relationship, such as Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Corey Booker,” the Israeli news outlet added.
The demand for a probe against Israel was “backed by dozens of members of Congress,” the British newspaper Guardian confirmed. “News of the inquiry was also welcomed by Senator Chris Van Hollen,” the daily added.DONATE
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