Shireen Abu Akleh: Blinken vows US will 'follow facts' on Palestinian journalist's killing

Shireen Abu Akleh: Blinken vows US will 'follow facts' on Palestinian journalist's killing
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is 'looking for an independent, credible investigation' into the murder of US-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made his comments on the sidelines of a Latin America summit [BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty-archive]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised on Tuesday to pursue accountability over the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh wherever facts lead.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was shot dead on 11 May while she was covering an Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank. Israel has still yet to acknowledge that its forces killed the well-known Al Jazeera reporter, despite proof from investigations and eyewitness testimonies.

Appearing at a forum for student journalists on the sidelines of a Latin America summit in Los Angeles, Blinken received a  question on why there have been "absolutely no repercussions" for the murder for Israel, a historic US ally.

"I'm sorry, with respect, they have not yet been established," Blinken said of the facts behind the case.

"We are looking for an independent, credible investigation. When that investigation happens, we will follow the facts, wherever they lead. It's as straightforward as that," he said.

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Blinken, who has spoken to Abu Akleh's family, said: "I deplore the loss of Shireen. She was a remarkable journalist, an American citizen."

A Palestinian Authority (PA) probe found that an Israeli soldier shot her dead in what it described as a war crime. A CNN report, quoting witnesses, also said that she appeared to have been killed in a targeted attack by Israeli forces.

Israel has angrily denied the allegations and said it is investigating, while asking Palestinian authorities to take part in a joint probe and hand over the bullet that fatally wounded Abu Akleh.

The PA has refused to provide the bullet, saying it does not trust Israel to conduct a fair investigation after it had spread "false narratives" regarding the slaying.

Israel's military and leaders initially claimed that she was killed by Palestinian gunmen.

They soon backtracked on that claim and have since said that it is possible Abu Akleh could have been killed by fire from an Israeli soldier.

Israel has claimed it needs the bullet to know for sure.

Dozens of lawmakers from US President Joe Biden's Democratic Party have called on the FBI to lead an investigation to seek an impartial finding into her death.

Al Jazeera announced in late May that it was going to refer Abu Akleh's death to the International Criminal Court.