Shirin Abu Akleh: US terrorists blame Israeli abuse on ‘impunity’

Washington DC – The U.S. State Department has often stated that “the safety and security of American citizens abroad is of no greater importance.”

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

State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the killing and called for an investigation, but on that day Washington confirmed that it believed Israel would investigate itself and not call for an independent investigation.

Ahmed Abu Jannid, executive director of the US Movement for Palestinian Rights, said the call for an inquiry into Israel was “empty signal”.

“You cannot ask the Israelis to investigate when they have been trampling on human rights for more than 70 years and you can not expect a different outcome than they have for decades,” he told Al Jazeera.

“These are atrocities that the international community has repeatedly seen – whether recorded or recorded on live video – and we have never seen accountability.”

On Wednesday, Israel repeatedly said in a Price State Department briefing that it “has the funds and capacity to launch a full and comprehensive investigation into Abu Aklar’s assassination.”

He said it was important for Washington to hold Abu Akler’s legacy accountable. Those responsible for Shirin’s murder should be fully prosecuted according to the law, ” Price told reporters.

Recent events, however, show that accountability has some meaningful consequences when Israel investigates the misconduct of its forces, Palestinian rights activists say.

The Israeli government’s initial reaction to Abu Akal’s assassination was to accuse the journalist of being shot dead by “armed Palestinians”, despite numerous eyewitness testimonies that he had been shot by the Israeli military.

“History and actions show that Israel cannot be trusted to investigate its war crimes and human rights abuses,” Abed Ayub al-Jazeera, legal director of the US-Arab Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC), told PTI.

“We demand an independent inquiry free from political pressure and the influence of US and Israeli interests.”

In January, Omar Assad, a 78-year-old U.S. citizen, suffered a heart attack after being unilaterally detained by the Israeli army, blindfolded and strangled.

At the time, the State Department was also calling for a “full criminal investigation and full accountability” of the case.

In February, the Israeli military described the incident as a “clear error of morality” and announced administrative disciplinary action against the battalion involved in Assad’s assassination, but no charges have been filed.

At the time, the U.S. State Department said it had high hopes for an investigation. “The government of Israel continues to discuss this alarming incident.”

But since then, US officials have not talked much about killing old American citizens. Asked for an update on the matter on Wednesday, a State Department spokesman shared comments made by Washington earlier this year expressing condolences to the Assad family.

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At the same time, US officials continue to praise Israel. This year, Washington added another $ 1 billion out of $ 3.8 billion in annual military aid to Israel to “complete” the Iron Dome missile defense system after the conflict with the Gaza Strip in May 2021.

The State Department sought more details in support of Israel’s claim that the tower was being used by Hamas agents when Israel bombed the AP and Al Jazeera buildings in Gaza during the conflict.

So far, the government has not condemned the bombing of media outlets in the US Gaza Strip or assessed whether it was justified.

Price on Wednesday asked what the building was intended for in the case of the Israeli attack on the media and the assassination of Abu Ekli a year ago. “We express our concern that journalists are in danger and that their offices are under attack,” he said.

Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute (AAI) in Washington, DC, said calls for an investigation were welcome, but the results of such research were significant.

“The question is, what’s going to happen next?” Berry told Al Jazeera. “That’s the source. What do you do next? Do we think the Israeli army will investigate itself and find there ‘moral error’ or wrong?”

The Biden administration insists that Israel can investigate its alleged war crimes – an argument used by the BCCI to counter the Palestinian push for an ICC investigation into Israeli misconduct.

For his part, Berry condemned America’s lack of accountability to Israel, including its abuse of American citizens.

“It’s a shame that we do not exempt Israel from treating American citizens, human rights violations – certainly in its dealings with Americans – you do not give a proper explanation as to why it should be allowed. , ”Berry told Al Jazeera.

As a candidate, Joe Biden assured Arab and Muslim American voters that he would take an impartial approach to resolving the conflict in his outreach efforts, despite explicitly rejecting conditional aid to Israel.

“Joe Biden believes in the value and worth of every Palestinian and every Israeli,” the Biden campaign stated at the 2021 Arab-American Forum. “He will work to ensure equal freedom, security, prosperity and democracy for Palestinians and Israelis.”

Variations of that comment still appear in statements from the State Department and the White House. However, Palestinian rights advocates say Biden did little to change his predecessor Donald Trump’s policy towards Israel-Palestine, except to restore some humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

Palestinian-American comedian and lawyer group Palestinian New Generation President Amer Zahar called Abu Akleh’s assassination a “targeted assassination.”

“Our State Department’s sharp reaction confirms what we already know: the Biden administration does not care about the lives of Palestinians, whether they are Americans or not,” he told Al Jazeera.

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