French President Emmanuel Macron has urged Israel to swiftly complete investigations into the death of a slain Palestinian journalist fatally shot by Israeli forces last week during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, the Elysee Palace said.
Veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead on Wednesday, May 11 in the West Bank city of Jenin while wearing a helmet and a vest that clearly identified her as a member of the press.
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Her death, and Israeli police attacks on mourners who attempted to walk with her coffin at her funeral two days later in occupied East Jerusalem, have sparked Palestinian and international outrage.
Israeli forces also attacked the hearse as it carried her body, to forcefully remove Palestinian flags from it.
“The president said that he was moved by the death of Shireen Abu Akleh and reiterated France’s position that a rapid conclusion of the investigation was needed,” the French president’s office said on Tuesday following a telephone call between Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Israel is conducting a probe into Abu Akleh’s killing, but United Nations human rights experts and many others have called for an independent investigation into the journalist’s killing.
The Palestinian leadership has rejected any probe by Israel, and is conducting an investigation of its own. It has also called on the International Criminal Court to conduct a probe, and has held the Israeli army responsible for the “assassination” of the veteran journalist.
Two United States Democratic congressmen are also pushing for an FBI investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, 51, who was a US citizen, according to the US-based website the intercept.
On Monday, United Kingdom members of parliament called on the UK government to demand an independent investigation into the killing.
Al Jazeera Media Network has accused Israel of “blatant murder” and also called for an independent investigation.
Israel has denied targeting Abu Akleh, saying she may have been shot accidentally by a soldier or by Palestinian fighters.
But reporters who were with Abu Akleh, including one who was shot and wounded in the back, said there were no confrontations or fighters in the immediate area when she was killed.
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem also conducted its own research and released a video on the day of the killing that refutes the Israeli army’s initial narrative, concluding that the gunfire that killed Abu Akleh was not fired by Palestinians. An investigation by Bellingcat, an investigative media outlet, suggested Israeli fire likely killed the veteran Al Jazeera journalist.
The Elysee Palace said that Macron had also expressed “concern” about Israel’s recent decision to press ahead with more than 4,000 new illegal settlement homes in the West Bank, land that the Palestinian leaders seek for a future state.
Settlements and outposts are a violation of international law. There are at least 600,000 illegal Jewish settlers who live in these Israeli-only housing complexes across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Nearly three million Palestinians live in the West Bank under Israeli military rule.
A statement from Bennett’s office following the call made no mention of Abu Akleh or of the settlements.
Leading rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as B’Tselem have concluded that Israel’s policies against the Palestinians amount to apartheid.