THE HAGUE -- News channel Al Jazeera on Tuesday formally asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the fatal shooting of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she was reporting from a Palestinian refugee camp in May.
Al Jazeera has accused the Israeli government of specifically targeting its journalists, calling Abu Akleh’s death a war crime. The news outlet wants ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to include the reporter's killing, as well as last year's Israeli airstrike on Al Jazeera’s offices in the Gaza Strip, in his ongoing investigation into allegations of war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.
“My family still doesn’t know who shot the deadly bullet,” Lena Abu Akleh, Shireen’s niece, told reporters during a press conference. The family submitted their own request for an ICC investigation in September.
Following international pressure, Israeli defense forces admitted it was likely that one of their soldiers shot the prominent correspondent while she was reporting on a military raid in the West Bank. The IDF denied the shooting was intentional and declared the case closed.
“No one will investigate (Israeli) soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al-Jazeera,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement in response to Tuesday’s filing.
Al Jazeera saw the killing as yet another attack on the press freedom of Palestinians. “Palestinian journalists have been targeted for doing their jobs as journalists,” Cameron Doley, who is representing Al Jazeera, told reporters after submitting the complaint to the world’s only permanent court for atrocities crimes.
ICC prosecutors opened a preliminary examination into allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza and the occupied West Bank in 2015, but did not begin a formal investigation until last year after determining that the court had jurisdiction.
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched its own investigation into the deadly encounter after U.S. lawmakers were disappointed with the Israeli military’s response. Abu Akleh obtained U.S. citizenship while living in the United States as a child.