Family of slain Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh meets Pope Francis
The family of veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead in the occupied West Bank last spring, again called for an independent investigation after briefly meeting Pope Francis during the general audience Wednesday.
Abu Akleh, a Palestinian Melkite Catholic who worked for Al-Jazeera for more than 25 years, was shot dead by the Israeli army on May 11 while covering a raid on Jenin.
Palestinian officials, Abu Akleh’s family and news network Al Jazeera accuse Israel of intentionally targeting and killing the 51-year-old journalist.
She was wearing a helmet and a protective vest marked with the word "PRESS" when she was shot in the occupied West Bank. Israel has acknowledged that Israeli fire "probably" killed Abu Akleh, but denies allegations that a soldier intentionally targeted her.
Abu Akleh’s niece Lina Abu Akleh said she hoped the Pope would put pressure on the US and other states to independently investigate the killing and bring her family justice.
"That’s why we are here, to demand and to call on people to continue to fight for justice," she said.
The niece and her parents, Anton and Lisa, shook hands with the pope during the audience and later planned to attend a Mass in Rome in Shireen Abu Akleh’s memory. The family recently met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court seeking justice for her killing.
Moving Mass to commemorate the life of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist shot dead in May. With her family, who were received by @Pontifex this morning. At the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin (which houses the famous ‘Bocca della Verità’, mouth of truth) pic.twitter.com/iTKpXKxfis— Dr Anabel Inge (@Anabel_Inge) October 26, 2022
A series of investigations by international media organisations, including The Associated Press, have found that Israeli troops most likely fired the fatal bullet. The United States concluded that an Israeli soldier likely "killed her by mistake," but it did not explain how it reached that conclusion.