The White House strongly condemned the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli military raid and is calling for a "thorough investigation" into her death.
Abu Akleh was covering a military raid carried out by the Israeli Defense Forces in pursuit of terror suspects in the West Bank on Wednesday morning when she was shot in the head by what was initially described in a statement released by the Palestinian Health Ministry as an Israeli round. The IDF claimed that Palestinian militants had first opened fire on its members and that Abu Akleh was killed in the crossfire. The initial findings on who shot her were unclear.
White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who will succeed Jen Psaki as press secretary next week, briefly addressed the incident during a gaggle with reporters traveling with President Joe Biden later that day.
"We strongly condemn the killing of Al Jazeera journalist and American citizen Shareen Abu Akleh in Jinan today, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family," she stated. "We call for a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances of her death."
"Investigating attacks on independent media and prosecuting those responsible are of paramount importance," Jean-Pierre added. "We will continue to promote media freedom and protect journalists' ability to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats to their lives or safety, or unjust detention."
Jean-Pierre did not answer additional questions about how Abu Akleh's death would affect Biden's scheduled trip to Israel in June and did not say if he planned to call Israeli officials or Abu Akleh's family. Biden has both previously supported Israel's right to protect itself from terror attacks and criticized the IDF's tactics and strikes, including the destruction of an office building hosting an Associated Press bureau in 2021.
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You can listen to Wednesday's gaggle below.
This story was updated to clarify the initial findings of the investigation of the shooting to date.