Blinken invites slain journalist Shireen's family to Washington - GulfToday

Blinken invites slain journalist Shireen's family to Washington


Palestinians walks past a mural depicting Shireen Abu Akleh in West Bank on Wednesday. AFP

US President Joe Biden's administration has invited relatives of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to Washington, an American official said on Wednesday, as Biden arrived in Israel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken "has invited the family to the United States to be able to sit down and engage with him directly," Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One, which later touched down in Israel shortly past 1200 GMT.

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, was killed while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank in May.

The United Nations has concluded the Palestinian-American journalist was killed by Israeli fire. Washington has agreed this was likely, but also said there was no evidence the killing was intentional.

ShireenAbuakhle-cousin Lina Abu Akleh watches the speech of Joe Biden, upon his arrival at Ben Gurion airport, at her home. AFP

Abu Akleh's family has voiced outrage over the Biden administration's "abject response" to her death. Lina Abu Akleh, Shireen's niece, confirmed she had spoken to Blinken on Wednesday.

"We got a call a few hours ago, around noon-time and we reiterated our demands and our request to meet the president on his arrival" in Jerusalem, she said.

She said the family voiced its "disappointment" with Washington's July 4 statement on Abu Akleh's killing that appeared to clear Israeli forces of intentional wrongdoing.

Justicefor-Shireen Palestinian journalists gather during a demonstration demanding justice for Shireen Abu Akleh in Gaza City. AFP

Blinken gave no indication as to whether the family would meet a top US official while Biden's delegation was in Jerusalem, Lina Abu Akleh said.

Palestinian journalists gathered in Gaza City on Wednesday to call for "justice" for Abu Akleh, one of the most prominent journalists covering the conflict.

"As President Biden visits the region for the first time we are here to demand protection for Palestinian journalists and hold the occupation accountable for the assassination of colleague Shireen Abu Akleh," said Mohammad Yassin, chairman of the Forum of Palestinian Journalists.

Yassin said 50 Palestinian journalists had been killed by Israel since 2000.

Israel says Palestinian gunmen were clashing with its forces at the scene of Abu Akleh's death, making it difficult to determine the precise circumstances, but that its troops did not shoot her deliberately.

Agence France-Presse




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