Family of slain Palestinian journalist demands justice as Biden lands in Israel

The niece of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh expressed her “outrage” on Wednesday at the arrival of US President Joe Biden in Israel, condemning Washington for its inaction over his assassination.

Lina Abu Akleh watched on TV from her home in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as Air Force One landed near Tel Aviv, just over two months after her aunt, a veteran Al Jazeera correspondent, was shot in the head while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank.
The United Nations concluded that she was killed by Israeli fire in Jenin, while wearing a helmet and vest marked “Press”. The family categorically claims they were deliberately targeted, which Israel denies.
Based on rival investigations by Israelis and Palestinians, the US State Department concluded on July 4 that she was likely shot from an Israeli military position, but said there was no evidence of intent to kill.
“Sadness, outrage and, just plain, upset,” Lina said as she watched Biden’s arrival, describing feelings stemming from “the inaction they (the United States) took in Shireen’s case.”
“The amount of power the US administration has to make a change, without taking this political choice to do so, is very frustrating,” said the 27-year-old, dressed in black.
“Either they choose their interests with Israel or they make a meaningful effort to bring accountability and justice to Shireen,” she added.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Lina while traveling to Tel Aviv with the President, inviting the family to Washington.
But Lina said they are still awaiting a response to their request to meet the president while he is in Jerusalem.
Portraits of Shireen hang at the entrance to their home, while the reporter’s dog lay at Lina’s feet.
As Al Jazeera aired footage of Biden’s arrival, Lina said she still hadn’t gotten used to the absence of her aunt’s voice on the network.
“It’s so weird watching this because Shireen would have been the one ‘covering such events,’ she said.
During Biden’s talks with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the Abu Akleh family hopes the president will pressure his host for details of the journalist’s May 11 murder.
Lina said Israeli authorities have the name of the soldier who shot her aunt.
Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-born US congressman, said the president “needs to get the names of the soldiers responsible for Shireen’s murder, as well as their commanding officer.”
The Democratic lawmaker also echoed the Abu Akleh family’s call for US authorities to launch their own investigation, which would see “these individuals…fully prosecuted for their crimes by the Department of Justice.” Justice”.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said last week that it remained impossible to determine the origin of the shooting and that “the investigation will continue”.
The Israeli army’s top lawyer did not rule out criminal charges against a soldier for the murder of Abu Akleh, but said prosecution was unlikely because she was shot in what the army considers like an active fight scene.
Biden did not mention the case in his remarks about landing in Israel, before embarking on his two-night stay during which he will also meet Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.
In Jerusalem, the Abu Akleh family still disagrees with the murder of the star journalist.
“We’re grieving, we’re still grieving. It’s a huge shock,” Lina said, with a Shireen badge pinned to her chest.
“But we are not discouraged – we will continue our fight for justice and accountability for Shireen.”
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Biden visits Israel for the first time
ME Tour as US President

US President Joe Biden kicked off a Middle East tour of Israel on Wednesday where both sides pledged to deepen the Jewish state’s integration into the region.
Biden — whose first regional visit since taking office will also take him to Saudi Arabia — pledged strong support for Israel, which has forged ties with several Arab states in recent years.
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid says ‘we will discuss building a new security and economic architecture with nations in the Middle East’, following US-brokered agreements in 2020 with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday will be the main focus of the tour. The trip is seen as part of efforts to stabilize Ukraine’s war-shattered oil markets through re-engagement with a key longtime US strategic ally and major energy supplier.

Elna M. Lemons