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FBI Investigating Death of Palestinian-American Journalist After Israel Calls Killing ‘Unintentional’

Shireen Abu Akleh stands next to a TV camera above the Old City of Jerusalem, in an undated photo. AP
Shireen Abu Akleh stands next to a TV camera above the Old City of Jerusalem, in an undated photo. AP

The FBI has opened an investigation into the death of Palestinian-American journalist who was killed by a mistakenly fired Israeli bullet, sources familiar with the matter told Axios on Monday.

Shireen Abu Akleh’s death from “unintentional fire” by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier had already been confirmed by at least three separate entities, Axios reported. However, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Israel’s foreign ministry recently that the FBI had opened the investigation into the incident, an unusual move that could involve requests by the U.S. to investigate Israeli soldiers, five sources briefed on the investigation told the outlet.

The Biden administration has faced pressure from Democratic lawmakers and the family of Abu Akleh to hold Israel accountable for the reporter’s death from gunshot wounds sustained on May 11 while covering an IDF military operation on a refugee camp in the West Bank. Later that month, over 50 members of Congress signed a letter invoking Secretary of State Antony Blinken and FBI Director Christopher Wray to open investigations into the circumstances of the killing, Al Jazeera reported.

“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 Investigations (FBI) launch an investigation into Ms. Abu Akleh’s death,” a draft of the letter circulating on Capitol Hill read, according to Al Jazeera. “We also request the U.S. Department of State determines whether any U.S. laws protecting Ms. Abu Akleh, an American citizen, were violated.”

However, Israel would likely reject any request from the Biden administration to conduct a separate investigation on Israeli troops, according to Axios.

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