Shireen Abu Akleh's family seeks meeting with Joe Biden

Palestinian-American journalist was shot during Israeli military operation in West Bank on May 11

Lina Abu Akleh, niece of killed Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, watches US President Joe Biden speak after his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. AFP
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Despite the pleas of her grieving family, it appears unlikely that US President Joe Biden will alter his busy schedule in Israel to meet relatives of killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

“No one has said yes or no,” said Lina Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera journalist's niece. “We're still waiting to hear back.

Abu Akleh, who was well known in the region, was killed while covering an Israeli raid in Jenin, a city in the occupied West Bank.

Blinken says US will 'follow facts' on killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Her death, which witnesses say was caused by Israeli gunfire, sparked outcry and condemnation from Palestinians.

In a letter sent to the US President before his trip to Israel, the Abu Akleh family expressed their “grief, outrage and sense of betrayal” over how the US had handled the situation.

They also requested a meeting with Mr Biden but instead have only received a call from Secretary of State Antony Blinken inviting them to the US.

Ms Abu Akleh said the family appreciates the invitation but feels it is important to meet the president in Jerusalem, where her aunt was born.

“She was a daughter of Jerusalem,” Ms Abu Akleh told The National.

“She was Palestinian and at the end of the day, she was she was killed in Palestine. So, it would have meant a lot for us for the president to sit with us and to talk to us.”

While Ms Abu Akleh still holds on to a sliver of hope that the meeting may somehow happen, she is resigned to the fact that it will probably not.

Mr Biden has yet to mention Abu Akleh by name or make any reference to her killing — something the family finds disappointing.

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He was talking about human rights earlier today but hasn't mentioned anything about Shireen, considering how her murder has violated multiple human rights
Lina Abu Akleh, niece of killed journalist

“I was saddened to see that they haven't mentioned her yet,” she said.

“I mean, he was talking about human rights earlier today, but hasn't mentioned anything about Shireen, considering how her murder has violated multiple human rights.”

While the US has condemned Abu Akleh’s killing, they have avoided casting any blame.

A US statement on July 4 said a bullet fired from an Israeli military position was “likely responsible” for Abu Akleh’s death, but the US Security Co-ordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority said there was “no reason to believe that this was intentional”.

The report sparked outrage among Palestinians and prompted the family to request the meeting with the US president.

There is growing pressure in the US for a more thorough investigation.

On Monday, four Democratic senators called on the Biden administration to reveal the extent of its earlier review.

“While we were glad to see the United States Security Co-ordinator involved in an independent forensic analysis of the bullet that killed Ms Abu Akleh, that hardly constitutes an independent investigation into the overall circumstances of her killing,” the senators said in a statement.

All Ms Abu Akleh and her family are looking for is a chance to explain to the president what her aunt meant, not only to them, but “to all the Palestinians and to millions of other people”.

Updated: July 15, 2022, 8:20 AM
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