Israel should not be allowed to whitewash the murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh with yet another mock investigation.
The only possible response to the hasty offer Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has urged Palestinians to conduct “a joint pathological investigation” into the murder of famed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Such “investigations” conducted by Israel serve not to expose the truth, but to bury it, not to establish accountability but to maintain impunity, not to indict the perpetrators, but to to protect them.
That the offer for a “joint inquiry” into Abu Akleh’s assassination came directly from Secretary of State Lapid — and later repeated by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — is testament to the magnitude of Israel’s concern over the public relations crisis it is now facing. is confronted. Such “research” and “analysis” offers are normally left to lower officials in Israel’s money laundering system.
Indeed, Israel will only engage in high-level money laundering if it believes that killing a Palestinian could damage the country’s image. Otherwise it won’t even bother with such empty gestures.
B’Tselem has for decades tried in good faith to engage Israel’s domestic investigative mechanisms. Over the years, we made hundreds of applications to the relevant authorities to investigate cases of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, but meaningful accountability was never realized. Six years ago, we concluded that we were dealing not just with a dysfunctional investigative mechanism, but with an organized, systematic money laundering operation. As a result, we have made the decision to continue our work on such killings — but without ever participating in Israel’s so-called “investigations.”
Israel’s investigative mechanism is clearly a charade. Even when an investigation into the murder of a Palestinian by Israeli forces is opened, it almost never ends with an indictment. The whole mechanism is a charade, because its flaws are, in fact, its essential features – the ones that enable it to deliver impunity. To begin with, the military has the task of examining itself. Soldiers are usually interviewed without being challenged, almost no effort is made to gather external evidence, and ‘investigations’ take years. Moreover, even the sham described above is only aimed at low-ranking soldiers – those who pursue policies that allow soldiers to pull the trigger on Palestinians are never criticized. All this, despite the fact that in many cases fatalities were not caused by deviations from the Israeli army’s policy, but by the criminal policy itself.
Take, for example, the cases of Israeli snipers firing at unarmed Palestinians near the Gaza fence during the Great March of Return demonstrations. Israel conducted “investigations” into certain specific cases of sniper shooting. But no one examined – and no one in Israel will – the rules of engagement themselves.
Israel’s military attorney general — the same person in charge of Israel’s military investigations — is charged with giving the green light to such policies. So it is clear that no one is being held accountable for giving these blatantly illegal orders to snipers.
Israel needs impunity to maintain its apartheid regime. It cannot control a subjugated population without state violence. So it is essential for the regime to provide itself with general impunity – while doing what appears to be investigations, to appease international expectations.
Impunity paves the way for more murders. Don’t fall for Israel’s propaganda, its promises to “investigate”. Israel will not hold itself accountable, just as its apartheid regime will not dismantle itself. International stakeholders who fail to speak out are simply throwing themselves into the Israeli money-laundering machine like a cog. The grotesque US pressure on Palestinians to accept a “joint” inquiry and the Statement by US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides vaguely “encouraging” a study only demonstrates the extent to which the Biden administration continues to serve as such a cog.
Shireen Abu Akleh once said, while it “may not be easy to change reality”, she can at least “bring the voice of the people to the world”. To keep that voice alive, honor her legacy and demand justice, please: say no to Israeli propaganda, view reality with clarity, and show Israel that the time of accountability has finally arrived — even if it is late.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.