Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, slammed the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday for opening an investigation into the death of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist who was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military raid on terrorists in the West Bank town of Jenin earlier this year.
“Joe Biden and his administration view Israel and Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu as political enemies, and so they are responding to them the way they respond to all their political enemies: by unleashing the FBI,” Cruz said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Our Israeli allies have, since the very beginning, cooperated closely with the United States in investigating this incident, and the State Department and Defense Departments had already drawn their conclusions.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz first said on Monday that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating Abu Akleh’s death.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid criticized the investigation on Tuesday, saying that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers “will not be investigated by the FBI or by any foreign country or body, however friendly.”
“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.”
The IDF concluded in September that an Israeli soldier likely shot Abu Akleh by mistake.
Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for an independent investigation by the U.S. into the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death and praised the announcement this week.
“This is an overdue but necessary and important step in the pursuit of justice and accountability in the shooting death of American citizen and journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said in a statement on Monday.
The investigation comes after Israeli elections, which resulted in Benjamin Netanyahu being tasked with forming a new right-wing government.
Fox News’ Yonat Friling contributed to this report.