Monday, June 27, 2022

Israeli official challenges AOC claims on death of Al Jazeera journalist

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Ambassador Asaf Zamir Consul General of Israel in New York City challenged comments made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., Friday after she accused Israeli forces of killing Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The seasoned journalist, who extensively reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over two decades, was covering an Israeli military raid in Jenin – an area Palestinians considered “occupied” just north of the West Bank – when she was struck in the head by a bullet last week.

Palestinian officials and journalists on the scene have accused Israeli forces of shooting Abu Akleh.

Mourners hold a banner depicting slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as they walk from the Old City of Jerusalem to her burial site, Friday, May 13, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

ISRAELI POLICE CLASH WITH MOURNERS CARRYING CASKET OF AL JAZEERA JOURNALIST SHIREEN ABU AKLEH

But Israeli officials have argued it could have come from Palestinian fighters who were engaged in a firefight with its forces. 

Israel’s military on Thursday said it had identified a soldier’s rifle that may have been used in Abu Akleh’s shooting, but said it could not sure until it was able to analyze the bullet. 

The Palestinian side, which said it will be running its own investigation over claims of mistrust in the Israeli government, has reportedly refused to hand over the bullet. 

Ocasio Cortez drew ire from the Israeli ambassador for comments she made in an Instagram video Thursday night.

“I think it’s really important for us to have eyes on what happened with Shireen Abu Akleh in Palestine, she was killed by Israeli forces — a venerated journalist, a US citizen,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We can’t allow this stuff to be happening with our resources.”

“Our tax dollars are a part of this. We can’t even get healthcare in the US, and we’re funding this,” she continued. “There has to be some sort of line that we draw.”

An Israeli soldier aims his weapon while others take cover behind their shields during a Palestinian protest amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 11, 2021. 

An Israeli soldier aims his weapon while others take cover behind their shields during a Palestinian protest amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 11, 2021. 
(REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma)

AL-JAZEERA REPORTER DIES FOLLOWING DISPUTED INCIDENT IN THE WEST BANK

Zamir countered the congresswoman’s comments and said, “It’s dangerous to accuse Israel when even the Palestinian coroner has made no determination.”

“This is exactly what leads to more violent antisemitism in NYC,” he added in a Twitter post. 

The Israeli ambassador included an interview he gave earlier in the week on CNN urging “honest reporting” and to wait for the results of an investigation. 

“We are asking people to wait for a second before they say, ‘Israel is in charge of the killing of a reporter’. Maybe we are and if we are, we need to investigate that,” Zamir said. “Maybe we’re not. But when you assume automatically that we are – that comes from a totally different place in your heart.”

Israeli police is deployed in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, April 17, 2022. Israeli police clashed with Palestinians outside Al-Aqsa Mosque after police cleared Palestinians from the sprawling compound to facilitate the routine visit of Jews to the holy site and accused Palestinians of stockpiling stones in anticipation of violence. 

Israeli police is deployed in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, April 17, 2022. Israeli police clashed with Palestinians outside Al-Aqsa Mosque after police cleared Palestinians from the sprawling compound to facilitate the routine visit of Jews to the holy site and accused Palestinians of stockpiling stones in anticipation of violence. 
(AP)

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Zamir cautioned that anti-Israeli sentiment leads to antiemetic behavior.

“In New York City antiemetic incidents have quadrupled in the last year – and there’s a connection,” he added.  

Israeli news outlets reported Thursday that the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division of its army will not be investigating Abu Akleh’s shooting. 

57 Democratic lawmakers, including Ocasio Cortez have called on the State Department and the FBI to conduct an independent investigation. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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