To date, Washington has failed to label Israel as the perpetrator of the killing, despite multiple reputable reports by rights groups .
United States President Joe Biden has sidetracked a request by slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s relatives to meet with him during his visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank this week, instead sending an invitation to Washington.
The Palestinian-American journalist was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper while covering the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) raid of Jenin. Despite being clearly identified as a member of the press via her ‘PRESS’ labelled flak jacket and helmet, the Israeli soldier proceeded to shoot her.
The White House released a public schedule of Biden’s visit on Wednesday, failing to include a slot for a meeting with the late journalist’s family.
Abu Akleh was an American citizen.
The move is seen as further fuelling Palestinian anger towards the Biden administration and comes amid accusations that the US has tried to shield the occupying regime from “scrutiny” after Abu Akleh’s tragic death.
Washington said in early July it could not reach a conclusion regarding the investigation into the killing of the Palestinian journalist, claiming the probe found the bullet had “likely” come from “positions” belonging to Israeli soldiers but dismissing the incident as “unintentional.”
The US Security Coordinator, which oversaw the process, “found no reason to believe that this was intentional but rather the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
Abu Akleh’s family slammed Biden’s response to the killing last week, accusing his administration of whitewashing what it called the “extrajudicial killing” of the journalist and perpetuating impunity for the occupation forces who killed the journalist in May.
Shortly before Biden landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the US State Department invited her family to Washington, according to the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, as well as Anton Abu Akleh, the journalist’s brother.
“Secretary Blinken actually spoke with Shireen’s family a short while ago,” Sullivan said, according to Al Jazeera, referring to a conversation with the US Secretary of State.
“He has invited the family to the United States to be able to sit down and engage with them directly. The administration, at the president’s direction, has been very much engaged in helping try to determine what exactly happened around the tragic circumstances of her death.”
Sullivan added that Abu Akleh’s killing “will be one of the subjects at play” during Biden’s meetings in the occupying state. He further pushed for “accountability and making sure that we find a way to conclude this chapter justly.”
In a letter released in response to the US prove, the family of the veteran journalist called out Washington for not doing enough.
“All available evidence suggests that Shireen, a US citizen, was the subject of an extrajudicial killing, yet your administration has thoroughly failed to meet the bare minimum expectation held by a grieving family—to ensure a prompt, thorough, credible, impartial, independent, effective and transparent investigation that leads to true justice and accountability for Shireen’s killing.”
Despite numerous investigations by independent media outlets, video footage, and witness testimonies pointing to the fact that there were no armed Palestinians in the area where Abu Akleh was killed, the US statement adamantly reiterated the Israeli shooting was a response to “a series of terrorist attacks in Israel.”
In compliance with its international human rights monitoring methodology, the United Nations rights office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.
It found “no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists.”
Amnesty has also called on Biden to end his support for Israel’s human rights violations against indigenous Palestinians and condemn its systematic abuses during his Tel Aviv visit.
Since announcing his visit, rights groups have called on the US president to address the Israeli regime’s crimes against Palestinians.
Plastered on bill boards and buildings are apartheid posters unravelled by Israeli human rights organisation B’tselem to welcome the US president.
“When the US stops backing Israeli apartheid, it will end,” the rights group said on Wednesday.
The statement comes as the US president’s begins his Middle East visit in the illegally occupied territories.
Biden arrived on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.
This is his first regional visit since assuming his role in the office in 2021.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomed Biden on Wednesday by describing the president as “a great Zionist” and friend of the occupying state.
Biden followed with a speech on the red carpet, in which he expressed his pride in visiting “an independent Jewish state of Israel.”
“The fact is, you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist,” the American president echoed.
Zionism is a nationalist and political ideology that called for the creation of a Jewish state, and currently supports the continued existence of Israel in the occupied lands of Palestine.
Reputable rights groups worldwide have described Israel as an apartheid state.