The U.S. is investigating the death of Palestinian American journalist Shirin Abu Akleh. Israel’s defense minister said Israel would not cooperate.
The investigation was rebuffed Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who said during a speech to Israel’s parliament that, “Our strong protest has been conveyed to the Americans at the appropriate levels. IDF soldiers will not be investigated by the FBI or by any foreign country or body, however friendly.”
He added, “The IDF is a moral and ethical army. IDF soldiers and their commanders defend the State of Israel. They thoroughly investigate any irregular event and are committed to the values and laws of democracy.”
On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz first said that the U.S. Department of Justice had launched an independent investigation into the shooting and killing of Abu Akleh. The investigation is reportedly to be conducted by the FBI.
A Justice Department spokesman had no comment when asked by the Associated Press on the matter, and there were no details about when an investigation might begin and what it would entail. However, such a probe into Israeli actions would be a rare, if not unprecedented, step.
An FBI spokesman told Fox News Digital that, “the FBI does not confirm or deny conducting specific investigations.” Fox News Digital questions sent to the Department of Justice remain unanswered.
Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist, was fatally shot while on assignment in the West Bank Palestinian town of Jenin, covering an IDF raid on terrorists in May 2022.
Gantz wrote on Twitter that the U.S. decision is a “grave mistake.” He said Israel would stand by its soldiers and not cooperate with the external investigation. “The IDF has conducted a professional, independent investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the case details were shared.”
Abu Akleh’s brother, Tony Abu Akleh, told Al Jazeera the family was optimistic about reports of a U.S. inquiry, saying it is “very important to hold those responsible accountable and prevent similar crimes. We hope this will be a turning point in the investigation into Shireen’s death,” he said.
There has been intense pressure for a U.S. inquiry from Abu Akleh’s family and Democratic members of Congress, including several moderate lawmakers known for their strong support for the US-Israel relationship, such as Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Corey Booker. A few days after her death, 57 Democratic lawmakers signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the FBI’s director demanding an independent investigation into the killing.
Several media investigations, including one by the U.N., concluded that the shot came from IDF fire and killed Abu Akleh, similar to the Palestinian position.
Israel initially dismissed the reports and claims, only to admit in September, after another extensive investigation monitored by the U.S, that an Israeli soldier likely shot Abu Akleh by mistake. The Israeli army closed the investigation and refused to indict those involved.
The announcement came after the Israeli elections which resulted in Benjamin Netanyahu being tasked with forming a new right-wing government.