Amnesty International / November 15, 2022
Commenting on the US Department of Justice’s decision to open an FBI investigation into the fatal shooting on of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May 2022, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“Shireen Abu Akleh was an icon of journalism who spent decades telling the stories of Palestinians. While we welcome this new move towards justice for her killing, we share the Abu Akleh family’s call for the FBI investigation to be truly independent and thorough, and for accountability to go right to the top of the Israeli military’s chain of command. Israeli forces cannot keep killing Palestinian civilians with impunity.
“Shireen Abu Akleh’s death was not an isolated incident – she is among 125 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli authorities in the West Bank so far this year. These killings, which mostly took place in the context of police operations and raids, are part of a system of apartheid which thrives on violent oppression and crimes under international law. Any government that cares about justice and human rights must pressure Israeli authorities to dismantle the apartheid system and take steps to hold Israeli officials to account.
“Given the climate of impunity that prevails in Israel, we reiterate our call on all states, including the US, to support the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the situation in Palestine. We will continue to demand justice for Shireen Abu Akleh – and for all Palestinians who have been unlawfully killed by Israeli forces – for as long as it takes.”
The Israeli authorities have not opened a criminal investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing, and no one has faced charges. Shortly after Shireen was killed, the Israeli military launched an internal ‘operational investigation’, which concluded in September that it was “not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit [her].” The military’s statement said that while there was a “high possibility” that Shireen was “accidentally” hit by Israeli gunfire, it had found nothing to justify opening a Military Police investigation.
Earlier this year, analysis by Israeli organization Yesh Din found that in 2019-20, Palestinians had just a 2% chance of a legal complaint resulting in criminal prosecution of the soldier who harmed them. Amnesty International’s February 2022 report Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity, sets out how unlawful killings are components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law.