As heas U.S. President, Joe Biden is facing criticism from the family of , the Palestinian-American journalist who was killed in May as she covered an Israeli operation in the occupied West Bank. The Al Jazeera correspondent’s death sparked worldwide condemnation, and while the Biden administration has invited her family to visit Washington, Abu Akleh’s niece tells CBS News they feel justice has not been served.
Cameras captured Abu Akleh’s final moments as she lay motionless on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. Would-be rescuers dodged bullets still flying through the air to try to reach her and provide first aid, but it was too late.
“Our initial reaction to Shireen’s killing was shock, sadness, anger,” Shireen’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, told CBS News correspondent Ian Lee just four days after the incident.
Asked who she and her family blamed for Shireen’s death, Lina did not hesitate: “Israel, definitely,” she said. “And they need to be held accountable.”
She also wants accountability for the chaos at her aunt’s funeral in Jerusalem, when, almost knocking the casket carrying Abu Akleh’s body to the ground.
Two months later, a United Nations investigation has blamed Israeli security forces for the journalist’s death, but Israeli officials say they’ve not reached a definitive conclusion.
A U.S. State Departmentthat while Israeli gunfire was “likely responsible,” there was “no reason to believe” it was an intentional killing.
“Ballistic experts determined the bullet was badly damaged, which prevented a clear conclusion” as to who fired the shot, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in early July, when the results of the U.S. probe were announced.
“We were disappointed that they wouldn’t take this matter seriously and that they wouldn’t hold Israel accountable,” Lina Abu Akleh told CBS News on Wednesday, as President Biden touched down in Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken invited her family to visit the U.S. capital, but they want to meet Mr. Biden now, while he’s in Israel.
“We want him to hear from our — to hear personally our demands, our concerns and our calls for accountability and justice,” Lina told Lee. “We aren’t only seeking accountability for the soldier that’s shooting, but the entire chain of command who gave the order.”
Lina said she also wants an FBI investigation into the shooting, with full transparency, and for the world to remember her aunt.
“Shireen wasn’t just a journalist,” she said. “She wasn’t just a Palestinian. She wasn’t just an American. At the end of the day, Shireen was a human being, and her life is important.”