Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday that he would not cooperate with a US investigation into the shooting death of a Palestinian-American journalist, likely at the hands of an Israeli soldier.
Politico reported that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation was probing the May 11 killing of Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli army operation, an extraordinary move that came after the army refused to prosecute the soldier who may have shot her.
The FBI refused to confirm or deny the investigation.
But Gantz said the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) would not cooperate.
“The decision taken by the US Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the tragic passing of Shireen Abu Akleh is a mistake,” he wrote in a tweet.
Israeli forces had conducted a “professional, independent investigation” and shared the details with US officials, he said.
“I have delivered a message to US representatives that we stand by the IDF’s soldiers, that we will not cooperate with an external investigation, and will not enable intervention to internal investigations,” he said.
The veteran Al Jazeera reporter was wearing a bulletproof vest marked “Press” and a helmet when she was shot in the head during the army operation in Jenin refugee camp, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Israeli army conceded on September 5 that one of its soldiers had likely shot Abu Akleh after having mistaken her for a militant.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said at the time that there needed to be “accountability in this case,” to prevent similar incidents in the future.
But two days later Prime Minister Yair Lapid rejected suggestions the soldier should be prosecuted.
“I will not allow an IDF soldier that was protecting himself from terrorist fire to be prosecuted just to receive applause from abroad,” Lapid told a military ceremony.
Last week Abu Akleh’s family and colleagues told UN investigators that she had been deliberately targeted as part of Israel’s “wide-scale war” on Palestinian media workers, and called for accountability and justice.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)