US Senators inch closer to receiving critical State Department report on Shireen Abu Akleh killing

US Senators inch closer to receiving critical State Department report on Shireen Abu Akleh killing
3 min read
15 September, 2022
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an amendment requiring the State Department to provide Senators with the US report on slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's shooting.
Eyewitnesses, the Al Jazeera network and the United Nations believe Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces [Getty]

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed an amendment demanding the State Department provide Senators with the report on the "shooting death" of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera, journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The report was overseen by the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) and the amendment to the Department of State Authorisation Act - by Senator Chris Van Hollen - was passed on Wednesday and will now head to the floor for consideration before the full Senate.

Van Hollen has repeatedly pressed for answers regarding the truth behind the death of Abu Akleh, who was shot in the head on 11 May by Israeli forces, while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank, as she wore a helmet and bulletproof vest marked "Press".

The US probe into Abu Akleh's killing held that she was likely killed by gunfire from Israeli positions, but that a "definitive conclusion" on the origin of the bullet that killed her could not be made.

After months of denial, Israel also finally admitted one of its soldiers likely killed the Al Jazeera journalist but in error. Witnesses have claimed that Abu Akleh was targeted in the killing.

It is hoped the report will reveal further details on the circumstances around Abu Akleh's killing.

"This amendment will ensure that the Senate will receive the USSC report as we requested in July – and I’m glad that it was adopted by the Foreign Relations Committee," Van Hollen said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I will continue pressing for full accountability and transparency around the death of Shireen - anything less is unacceptable."

The text of the Senator's amendment states that "not later than 14 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit" a complete copy of the report surrounding the shooting of Abu Akleh to the committee.

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Several independent investigations concluded that Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier.

Eyewitnesses, the Al Jazeera network and the United Nations also stated the dual national was killed by Israeli forces. 

Earlier this month, Israel also said that there was a "high possibility" that an Israeli soldier shot her, despite previously portraying the shooting as a mistake during a protracted firefight with Palestinian militants.

Abu Akleh’s career spanned 25 years at the pan-Arab Al Jazeera network and she was revered by Palestinians as a hero for her journalism. 

Her killing further strained already tense relations between the Israeli military and reporters covering the harsh realities of Israel's open-ended 55-year occupation of Palestinian land.