US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the family of slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the State Department on Tuesday.
“The Secretary is deeply appreciative of the opportunity to meet with Shireen’s family,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing, noting that the meeting was ongoing at that point.
Price said Blinken would “use the opportunity to underscore for Shireen’s family our deepest condolences on her tragic death and to reiterate the priority we attach to accountability, something we continue to discuss with our Israeli and Palestinian partners, as well.”
Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank in May. A series of news organizations, among them CNN, as well as the United Nations, published investigations into her death which concluded the bullet that killed her was most likely fired from an Israeli soldier’s gun.
But the Al Jazeera journalist’s family has been highly critical of the Biden administration’s response to her death. Earlier this month, it accused the US government of undermining “our efforts towards justice and accountability,” after an examination of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh led the US to determine that gunfire from the Israeli military was “likely responsible” for her death but there was “no reason to believe that this was intentional.”
“Our family just finished meeting with (Blinken),” Shireen Abu Akleh’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, wrote in a series of tweets. “Although he made some commitments on Shireen’s killing, we’re still waiting to see if this administration will meaningfully answer our calls for #JusticeForShireen.”
Blinken “told us that he has a duty to protect every US citizen,” she wrote. “We will hold him to this. Nothing short of a US investigation that leads to real accountability is acceptable, and we won’t stop until no other American or Palestinian family endures the same pain we have.”
Lina Abu Akleh said in a separate tweet that the family is pushing for a meeting with President Joe Biden, saying such a meeting “will demonstrate to our family that Shireen’s case is a priority for this administration.”
“Since he didn’t meet with us in Jerusalem, we came to DC. We need him to hear from us directly,” she wrote. “(Blinken) committed to transparency with our family going forward, and we expect to be consulted and updated every step of the way.”
Asked about the family’s call for a US probe into the killing, Price said the department’s “focus has been on bridging” the Israeli and Palestinian investigations “and doing all that we can to see to it that the investigations that are being carried out are thorough, they’re done exhaustively, they are done transparently, and again, that they end in accountability.”
Abu Akleh was a household name in the Arab world, having spent decades reporting on the lives of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Israel has insisted her death might have been the result of shots fired by Palestinian gunmen in an exchange of fire with Israeli soldiers, though audio and video evidence turned up by independent investigations supports eyewitness claims there was no such firefight ongoing at the time of her shooting.
CNN’s Hadas Gold, Kate Sullivan and Allie Malloy contributed to this report.