Middle East Monitor / September 6, 2022
No criminal investigation will be opened to establish who killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) released an ambiguous statement that merely echoed the US State Department’s non-committal tone when it said that no conclusive evidence was provided by the ballistic analysis.
“There is a high possibility that Shireen was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired towards suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired towards IDF soldiers,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, leaving open the possibility that Abu Akleh was killed by “Palestinian militants”.
Of course, the IDF statement prompted much criticism, not least from Abu Akleh’s family. “We will continue to demand that the US government follow through with its stated commitments to accountability,” said family members in an open letter.
However, knowing that Israel followed in America’s footsteps by being ambiguous about culpability for the journalist’s killing and addressing the occupation state’s colonial violence, anyone expecting the US government to help is going to be disappointed. Resorting to international channels and diplomacy is also an indication of Israel’s absolute impunity and the structure supporting it. After all, the US funds Israeli violence to ensure that the colonial project continues largely unhindered. Human rights and justice are embellishments to speak about, but the US will not lose lucrative deals with Israel to protect Palestinians, not even those with dual US nationality.
Abu Akleh’s killing and US-Israeli complicity to bolster colonial impunity expose the corrupt system to which victims and their relatives are subjected. In this case, Abu Akleh’s family have no other option but to ask the US government repeatedly to do the impossible and ensure a credible investigation into the targeted assassination. Resorting to international institutions garners the same bureaucratic result, as would an appeal to the International Criminal Court. To say that the family has options to which it can resort against this travesty of justice only gives power to the same institutions and governments that protect Israel’s colonial violence.
Not only has the family suffered loss as a direct result of Israel’s murderous policies, but the relatives are also being forced to beg for justice to diplomats who are barely able to pay lip service to human rights, let alone be ready to persuade Israel to hold its soldiers to account for killing Abu Akleh. The dependence that Israel has constructed, both in terms of diplomatic relations as well as the tiers of violence between the state, its institutions and illegal settlers, is a major impediment to anyone seeking justice. Israel’s ongoing Nakba has maimed and killed thousands of Palestinians, under the full gaze of the US and the international community. Justice has not been forthcoming, but normalizing Israel’s violence has certainly gained traction.
Abu Akleh’s case undoubtedly generated more media attention than the killings of other Palestinians, thus enabling it to linger longer in terms of scrutiny in the public eye. Yet Israel remains unperturbed, knowing that its violence is not something the international community is willing to challenge. The IDF statement is a clear admission from the heart of Israel’s colonial violence that no Palestinian is safe. For those seeking justice through the usual channels, the message is clear: expect nothing but humiliation to come of it.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America