Shireen Abu Aqleh
Shireen Abu AqlehReuters

The family of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was shot dead while covering clashes between IDF soldiers and terrorist in Jenin, on Tuesday praised a US decision to open a probe into her death.

"This is an important step," said a statement from the family quoted by AFP.

The family added that US authorities have a responsibility to investigate, "when a US citizen is killed abroad, especially when they were killed, like Shireen, by a foreign military."

The statement comes one day after the US administration informed the Israeli government that the FBI has opened an investigation into the death of Abu Aqleh.

An Israeli official said that US officials had informed the Justice Ministry of the move and stated that the US may ask Israel to hand over materials related to the case.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the Biden Administration's decision to launch its own investigation a "mistake."

“The IDF has conducted a professional, independent investigation, which was presented to American officials with whom the case details were shared. I have delivered a message to US representatives that we stand by the IDF’s soldiers, and that we will not cooperate with an external investigation,” said Gantz.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid also slammed the US Administration's decision to launch the investigation into during the swearing-in ceremony for the 25th Knesset Tuesday.

“The IDF is a moral and ethical army. IDF soldiers and their commanders defend the State of Israel. The IDF thoroughly investigates any irregular event and is committed to the values and laws of democracy," Lapid said.

"Our soldiers will not be investigated by the FBI or by any other foreign country or entity, however friendly it may be. We will not abandon our soldiers to foreign investigations. We have conveyed our strong protest to the United States,” he added.

The IDF released a report on Abu Aqleh’s death in September. The report found that it was not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire from which Abu Aqleh was hit and killed.

The report said that there is a high possibility Abu Aqleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire, but it is also possible that she was hit by gunfire from Palestinian Arab terrorists.

The PA initially refused Israel’s request to launch a joint probe to investigate the incident, and instead released the findings of its investigation, claiming that she was shot by IDF forces.

Eventually, the PA finally agreed to a forensic investigation by the US of the bullet that they claim killed Abu Aqleh.