The tragic death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last week during a firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen near the town of Jenin in the West Bank must be investigated. However, the Palestinian Authority has rejected Israel’s request to examine the bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh. The PA has also rejected an Israeli proposal for a joint Israel-PA investigation. The PA has instead demanded the International Criminal Court launch an immediate probe into the incident.
Ms. Abu Akleh’s tragic death has quickly galvanized Palestinians and their supporters around the world against Israel, and the PA seems determined to capitalize on that sentiment as much as possible.
Israel, for its part, has said it has been unable to determine who fired the fatal shot but has also said it would accept responsibility if a credible investigation proved otherwise. But the Israeli government is wary of any investigation conducted by the International Criminal Court, given the ICC’s perceived anti-Israel bias.
An alternative solution is therefore necessary: an independent investigation must be conducted by a third party who both the Palestinians and Israelis can trust to act fairly and impartially. That third party must also possess unrivaled expertise in ballistics and shooting investigations. That third party is the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI is renowned for its capabilities in ballistics analysis and shooting investigations. Its agents could be dispatched to Jenin on short notice to conduct the necessary investigation. The FBI experts would need unfettered access to all physical evidence and to all relevant witnesses on both sides. The PA and the Israeli government would need to pledge their full cooperation to the FBI and provide all necessary support to the Bureau. Both sides would need to agree in advance to accept the FBI’s findings and to mete out appropriate punishment to their own people depending on the investigation’s findings.
Asking the FBI to determine the cause of Ms. Abu Akleh’s death would also bring some measure of closure to Ms. Abu Akleh’s family and loved ones.
The Israeli Government and the PA have a shared interest in finding the truth. Hopefully, they will each be willing the ask the FBI for help in realizing that shared interest.