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Semafor LogoJenna Moon
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US opens investigation into killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Jenna Moon is a Breaking News reporter. You can reach her at jmoon@semafor.com. Sign up for Flagship, our daily newsletter that distills what’s happening in the world into a concise, insightful morning read.

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The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has opened an investigation into the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The U.S. Department of Justice has informed Israel, which has said it will not cooperate with an American probe.

Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/Al Jazeera Media Network
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Abu Akleh, a reporter for Al Jazeera, was fatally shot in the head while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank in May. The Palestinian Authority, and her family, have accused Israeli forces of intentionally targeting the journalist who was wearing a helmet and vest clearly marked “press” at the time of the shooting.

The Israeli military initially said Abu Akleh was caught in crossfire. But independent analyses of the situation by the U.N. and several media outlets confirmed she was not near Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces were almost certainly responsible.

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Abu Akleh’s family praised the U.S. decision to investigate the killing and said they hoped it would be “truly independent, credible, and thorough.”

The family has been calling for a probe since the journalist's death, saying “it is what the United States should do when a U.S. citizen is killed abroad, especially when they were killed, like Shireen, by a foreign military.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the FBI’s investigation a “grave mistake,” writing on Twitter that “the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has conducted a professional, independent investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the details were shared.”

In September the Israel Defense Forces finally acknowledged that one of its soldiers likely shot Abu Akleh, but did not open prosecutions and closed the case.

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