By Farah Caïdi / GICJ

On the 14th of November 2022, the US announced that they will open an investigation of the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, an American-Palestinian citizen and prominent journalist, that took place in Jenin on the 11th of May 2022. 

Until now, the US refused to open an investigation as it considered Israel had the ability to investigate its own soldiers. However, the Israeli investigation was completely opaque and incomplete. For example, it did not include any of the eyewitnesses present that day. Israel concluded that Shireen’s murder by an Israeli soldier was only “a high possibility”, and if so, it was unintentional. The details of the bullet examination conducted under a US security coordinator were not released. They only shared that the examination was inconclusive. Tatyana Eatwell, a barrister representing Shireen Abu Akleh’s family, highlighted that if “one cannot identify the shooter, it is very difficult to see how one can conclude that the shooter did not intentionally direct fire at Shireen in a manner intended to harm her”. 

Video footage of that day, and some testimonies from eyewitnesses, convinced some media and civil society to launch independent forensic investigations in reaction to the Israeli lack of transparency, including the NYT, CNN, and the OHCHR. The results came to be highly credible, and reasonably questioned the fact that the shots were unintentional and by mistake.

This announcement from the US comes right after a week of public hearings of the civil society held by the Commission on Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Including East Jerusalem and Israel. The commission saw the interview of two survivor journalists targeted that day with Shireen. Tatyana Eatwell called for the International Criminal Court to open a formal investigation. 

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) welcomes the US decision to investigate the killing. However, we join Tatyana Eatwell and other stakeholders in highlighting the need for an international independent investigation from the International Criminal Court, as the national judiciary clearly proved unwilling and unable to do it thoroughly.

Click here to access the full testimonies of the Public Hearings held by the Commission of Inquiry 

Palestine, Commission of Inquiry, OPT, Israel, Public Hearings, Geneva International Centre for Justice, Human Rights council

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