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New footage contradicts Israeli claims over Abu Akleh’s killing

Palestinian schoolgirls approach a drawing on May 19, 2022 at an art exhibit honouring slain Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh (portraits) at the spot where she was killed on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. (Photo by AFP)

A newly-released video shows relative calm and quiet in the area where Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces, contradicting the regime's claim that fighting was taking place there.

Abu Akleh, a veteran of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network's Arabic service, was shot in the head on May 11, when she was covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the Palestinian village of Jenin wearing visible blue press flak jackets distinguishing them from others.

Israel initially said that she might have been killed by Palestinian gunmen, however, retracted this statement later, saying it would investigate the incident.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also claimed at first that “it appears likely that armed Palestinians — who were firing indiscriminately at the time — were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist.”

However, the latest footage, which was filmed by a Jenin resident, shows quiet moments, with no sounds of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses and journalists who were with Abu Akleh on the day she was shot dead described the shooting as a “deliberate attempt” to kill the journalists.

Shatha Hanaysha, a news correspondent and an eyewitness to the shootings, said they were not caught up in crossfire with Palestinian fighters like the Israeli army claimed.

Abu Akleh's tragic death sent shockwaves across the region, and was met with international outrage as well as calls for an independent and transparent investigation into the killing.

The United Nations and the European Union, among others, have called for a full investigation into what has been described as a deliberate killing “in cold blood.”

Israeli forces faced further condemnation and scrutiny during Abu Akleh's funeral procession, where videos showed them attacking and beating attendees and pallbearers.

US lawmakers urge probe into killing of Palestinian journalist Abu Akleh

Over 50 US lawmakers have called for an investigation into the Israeli killing of Abu Akleh as Tel Aviv is refusing to launch a probe.

In a letter to the FBI and US State Department, the lawmakers said Washington should be directly involved in the investigation of the Palestinian-American Journalist’s cold blooded killing, noting, “Journalists worldwide must be protected at all costs.”

“We request the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) launch an investigation into Ms. Abu Akleh’s death. We also request the US Department of State determines whether any US laws protecting Ms. Abu Akleh, an American citizen, were violated.”

Spearheaded by Democratic Congressmen Andre Carson and Luis Correa, the letter has obtained a total of 57 signatories as of Friday. Members of Congress, ranging from progressive Democrats to more moderate and even pro-Israel lawmakers in the party, signed the letter.

Legal and human rights experts, who spoke to the Middle East Eye, said the US has the mandate to launch probe into the killing of journalists with American citizenship and has a precedent of launching such investigations.

On Thursday, the Israeli military said that the army had potentially identified the rifle that may have been used to kill Abu Akleh, but said they could not be sure unless Palestinian authorities handed over the bullet.

The military added that it was not planning to investigate the killing, claiming there was no suspicion of a criminal act.

The Israeli NGO Yesh Din said that failure to investigate the incident showed “the army law enforcement mechanisms no longer even bother to give the appearance of investigating. Eighty percent of the complaints that are submitted are dismissed without a criminal investigation. It appears that politics and image count for more than truth and justice. An army that investigates itself in such a serious case as this again proves that it is incapable or unwilling to undertake a fair and effective probe.”

Congresswoman slams US for continuing to support Israel following Abu Akleh killing

Progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has censured the US government for continuing to support the regime in Tel Aviv despite Israeli forces being responsible for the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist, who was also a US citizen.

In an Instagram video on Friday morning, Ocasio-Cortez said, "I think it's really important for us to have eyes on what happened with Shireen Abu Akleh in Palestine, she was killed by Israeli forces - A venerated journalist, a US citizen."

"We can't allow this stuff to be happening with our resources," she said, adding, “Our tax dollars are a part of this...we can't even get health care in the US, and we're funding this, … there has to be some sort of line that we draw."

Pointing to an air raid on a media building last May which housed Middle East Eye, the Associated Press and other international news agencies, the congresswoman also called for an end to Israeli attacks on journalists and media personnel.  

"We saw an entire media building get bombed last year. That can't be happening with our consent, with us looking away anymore," she said

Israel receives $3.8bn in US military aid annually, the highest of any country, and also received an extra $1bn this year to "replenish" its Iron Dome missile defense system after the May 2021 war on Gaza.

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