By Iqbal Jassat
It was a “silly and stupid” move to hand over the bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh to the Americans, is the view of many Palestinians, who have criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for doing so.
None are surprised therefore to find that the US investigators, who strangely opted to remain anonymous, have arrived at a vague conclusion, letting the Israeli killers off the hook.
Exactly what many feared when it was discovered that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas buckled under US pressure to “gift” Israel by passing the bullet over the apartheid regime’s funder, protector and military supplier.
Despite vehemently opposed to Israel laying hands on the bullet, the PA yet again succumbed to American blackmail. In so doing it has shot itself in the foot and dangerously undermined the overriding need to hold Israel accountable.
None can thus fault the Abu Akleh family for being extremely dismayed and anguished by the Biden administration’s attempt to whitewash Israel’s brutal execution of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
They have rejected the result of the US investigation and in a strongly worded statement denounced it as an insult to Shireen’s memory.
The focus on the bullet has always been misplaced and was an attempt by the Israeli side to spin the narrative in its favor as if this were some kind of police whodunit that could be solved by a CSI-style forensic test. The notion that the American investigators, whose identity is not disclosed in the statement, believe the bullet “likely came from Israeli positions” is cold comfort.
We say this in light of the addition of a conclusory pronouncement that the killing was not intentional but rather the result of a purported Israeli counterterrorism raid gone wrong, which is frankly insulting to Shireen’s memory and ignores the history and context of the brutal and violent nature of what is now the longest military occupation in modern history.
Palestine’s leading Islamic resistance movement Hamas has also condemned the outcome of the US investigation as an attempt to absolve the Zionists of the consequences of “this heinous crime”. It attacked the findings as flagrant bias in favour of the Occupiers and “disregard for Palestinian blood”.
“These biased results from the US contradict all the results of the investigation previously conducted, including investigations by American media agencies. The Zionist occupation is primarily and directly responsible for the deliberate murder of journalist Abu Akleh, and we call for the opening of an independent international investigation and to submit the case to the International Criminal Court to uncover the truth and punish the perpetrators of this crime,” said Hamas in a statement.
The anger by Palestinians is also fuelled by remarks made by US State Department spokesman Ned Price. Trying hard to absolve the Israeli murderers, he said the findings concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions “likely” killed Shireen Abu Akleh, but there was “no reason to believe” that it was “intentional”.
Clearly, the entire exercise of a forensic probe by US officials was stage-managed to deflect from other credible investigations which laid the blame directly on Israel’s military and line of command to the highest office.
By participating in this scam, the PA bears responsibility for enabling the US to shield Israel in what appears to be a hoax investigation. Surely Abbas and his US-funded overlords ought to have foreseen the false outcome, knowing and agreeing to a flawed process undertaken in the American embassy?
It is utterly foolish and naive for the PA to have believed that granting America the right to act as judge, jury and prosecutor, would result in a fair and impartial probe. And to have proceeded without the approval of the Abu Akleh family is unforgivable.
In any event, the UN Human Rights Office said its review of the killing shows that the shots that killed Shireen Abu Akleh and injured her colleague came from Israeli forces – not Palestinians. And in contrast to the US position, it claimed to have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists.
And unlike the sloppy US probe, the UN reached its determination after gathering information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney general. Its staff also visited the scene where Abu Akleh was shot, spoke to witnesses and experts and analyzed the video and other records.
Surely the dignity of Shireen Abu Akleh and pursuit of justice required a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation.
It is no surprise to note that one of the voices critical of the US State Department’s cowardly statement is Jewish author Miko Peled. He correctly points out that the American probe overlooks basic facts: that there was no exchange of fire at the time she was shot, there was no reason to shoot in her direction, she was well identified as a journalist and she wore a bulletproof vest and a helmet.
“A trained Israeli sniper pulled the trigger which means he could see all this through his scope.”
For the same reason, PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh also held Israel responsible for the killing of Abu Akleh.
“The Israeli occupation government bears the responsibility for the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, and we will complete our procedures before the international courts,” Sheikh wrote on Twitter.
“We will not allow attempts to conceal the truth or indirect references in accusing Israel.”
Until Shireen’s killers are prosecuted and punished, expect Israel’s impunity to become more brazen, courtesy of America.