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Grassroots Action Center

Urge the Administration to Hold Israel Accountable for Violations of International Law

As the situation on the ground in Israel/Palestine intensifies, Israel has taken concerning steps targeting Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations. Israel has not yet thoroughly investigated the killing of Palestinian-American Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. It has also shut down Palestinian organizations that play an essential role in monitoring human rights and supporting Palestinian civil society. 

 

On September 5, Israel released the findings of its investigation of the May 11 murder of Al-Jazeera journalist and Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh.  Both local and international human rights organizations and media organizations have concluded that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli soldiers.  However, until the September 5 report was issued, Israel had denied any responsibility and tried to shift the blame for the killing onto Palestinians.   

 

In its new report Israel concluded that there was a “high possibility” that an Israeli soldier “accidentally hit” Abu Akleh. The Israeli government declined to pursue a military police investigation, stating in the report that “there is no suspicion of a criminal offense that justifies the opening of a Military Police investigation.” This response continues a problematic pattern of impunity for Israeli soldiers who shoot medics, journalists and other civilians in Palestine.    

 

Despite the evidence showing Israeli responsibility for the killing of Abu Akleh, the US response to the report makes clear that it will not pressure Israel or hold it accountable in any way for Abu Akleh’s death. The U.S. has ignored calls for an independent  investigation and criticism of the Israeli report by B’Tselem.  Abu Akleh’s family has continued to seek a meeting with President Biden, with no positive response to date. 

 

In addition, in mid-August, Israeli forces welded shut the doors of international respected civil society and human rights organizations in Ramallah, which were deemed (without evidence or proof) “terrorist organizations” last October by the Ministry of Defense.  The international community has not accepted this action, but Israel has also not been held accountable for its assault on these well-respected organizations.  

 

Closing down and cutting the funding of Palestinian organizations prevents the documentation of human rights abuses.  Last week, the organizations urged the US Administration to “condemn Israel’s latest actions aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations” and to “demand Israel to rescind the designations under both Israeli civilian law and military law.” 

 

This lack of accountability is nothing new. For decades, Israel has acted with virtual impunity in its wanton disregard for international law and disrespect of human life.  Israeli incursions into the occupied northern West Bank city of Jenin, which Abu Akleh was covering when she was killed, have continued into September, including raids of homes, killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians, and home demolitions. It is time for the US to use its leverage to hold Israel accountable for violating international law and human rights.  Urge Congress, President Biden, and Secretary Blinken to press for an independent investigation of Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder, support civil society and human rights organizations’ right to operate freely in Palestine, and to hold Israel accountable for these actions. 

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