July 12, 2022

Senators Menendez, Booker Pen Letter to POTUS on Investigations into Death of NJ Resident, Palestinian-American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

WASHINGTON –?Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sent a letter to President Biden in advance of his upcoming travel to the Middle East regarding investigations into the death of Palestinian-American journalist and New Jersey resident Shireen Abu Akleh. Condemning the attack on mourners during Ms. Abu Akleh’s funeral procession, the senators urged President Biden to raise Ms. Abu Akleh’s case at the highest levels and press for accountability during his visit. The senators also called for continued U.S. participation in transparent and timely investigations into any remaining or new evidence.

“We acknowledge your Administration’s efforts to support a comprehensive and impartial investigation and recognize that the damage to the bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh was determined to be too extensive to reach a ‘definite conclusion’ regarding its origin. However, it is troubling that the Administration has not provided our constituents, as they noted in their recent letter to you, with any details of a ‘thorough…credible investigation,’” the senators wrote. “Every family should be able to grieve the loss of a loved one in peace and dignity. We urge the State Department to ensure that Ms. Abu Akleh’s family continue to receive any and all support they need during this difficult time.”

The senators also requested that the Administration provide a senior-level classified briefing on investigation details, including American involvement and next steps with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding accountability for Ms. Abu Akleh’s death.

“Ms. Abu Akleh’s courageous and unbiased reporting provided critical news not only for Palestinians and Israelis, but for the international community as a whole. In her 25 years as a journalist, she became one of the most prominent names across the Middle East,” the senators added. “As a strong advocate of media freedom, the U.S. must continue to promote and protect journalists’ ability to do their jobs across the globe without threats to their lives, in and out of conflict zones. Our support as they advance truth, transparency, and accountability has never been more critical.”

Find a copy of the letter HERE and below.

Dear President Biden:

We write to you about the investigations into the death of Palestinian-American journalist and New Jersey resident Shireen Abu Akleh. The inconclusive nature of the investigations fails to provide answers to Ms. Abu Akleh’s family. 

We acknowledge your Administration’s efforts to support a comprehensive and impartial investigation and recognize that the damage to the bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh was determined to be too extensive to reach a “definite conclusion” regarding its origin. However, it is troubling that the Administration has not provided our constituents, as they noted in their recent letter to you, with any details of a “thorough…credible investigation.” We urge you to raise Ms. Abu Akleh’s case at the highest levels and press for accountability during your upcoming visit to Israel and the West Bank. We also ask for continued U.S. participation in transparent and timely investigations into any remaining or new evidence.

We request that your Administration provide us a senior-level classified briefing on the investigation details, including American involvement. We ask that this briefing cover the U.S. Security Coordinator’s engagements regarding the investigations conducted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian Authority (PA), a full account of the ballistic and forensic analysis, and next steps with the IDF and PA regarding accountability for Ms. Abu Akleh’s death.

Further, we must be clear to those individuals who attacked mourners during Ms. Abu Akleh’s funeral procession that this behavior is unacceptable. Every family should be able to grieve the loss of a loved one in peace and dignity. We urge the State Department to ensure that Ms. Abu Akleh’s family continue to receive any and all support they need during this difficult time.

Ms. Abu Akleh’s courageous and unbiased reporting provided critical news not only for Palestinians and Israelis, but for the international community as a whole. In her 25 years as a journalist, she became one of the most prominent names across the Middle East. As a strong advocate of media freedom, the U.S. must continue to promote and protect journalists’ ability to do their jobs across the globe without threats to their lives, in and out of conflict zones. Our support as they advance truth, transparency, and accountability has never been more critical.

We trust that you will treat this request for a classified briefing with the utmost urgency. We appreciate your personal consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

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Press Contact

Juan Pachon