Occupation police beat mourners at the funeral of the slain Palestinian journalist


JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police officers accused Palestinian mourners who carried the coffin of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Friday before thousands led her coffin through Jerusalem’s Old City in a wave of grief and anger over her death.

Gathering around Abu Aqla’s coffin, dozens of Palestinians, some of them waving Palestinian flags and chanting “We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, Shireen,” began marching toward the gates of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Seemingly trying to prevent them from walking rather than taking the coffin by car, they stormed the courtyard gates and attacked the crowd, some of them batting and kicking the coffin-bearers.

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Once the group was carrying their coffin against a wall and they nearly threw the coffin, recovering it before one end hit the ground when the stun grenades went off.

The violent scenes, which lasted for minutes, increased Palestinian anger over the killing of Abu Oqla, who threatened to inflame the violence that has escalated since March.

Abu Okla, who has covered Palestinian affairs and the Middle East for more than two decades, was shot while covering the Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Read more

The Palestinian authorities described the killing of Abu Akleh as an assassination by Israeli forces. The Israeli government initially suggested Palestinian shooting might have been the cause, but officials also said they could not rule out that Israeli bullets killed her.

Israeli police said that a group of Palestinians outside the hospital, which they described as rioters, began throwing stones at the officers.

They added that “the police were forced to act.”

Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the White House found the images disturbing, and US officials will remain in close contact with Israeli and Palestinian authorities in the wake of Aql’s funeral.

“Every family deserves to be able to provide their loved ones to rest in dignity and without hindrance,” said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

Egypt, Qatar and Al Jazeera condemned the behavior of the police. Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the scenes were “absolutely horrific” and the European Union said it was stunned.

A few minutes after the police intervention, Abu Akle’s coffin was placed in a car heading towards the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the funeral service took place peacefully.

Crowds of Palestinians lined the narrow alleys of the Old City as the coffin was transported to the nearby Mount Zion cemetery.

Her grave was covered with wreaths, and the Palestinian flag was wrapped over the cross of the grave, while mourners surrounded it in sympathy for Abu Uqla.

“We are here because we are crying out for justice. Justice for Shireen Abu Akla and justice for Palestine,” said one of the mourners, who asked not to be named.

Investigations and raids

And the Israeli army said, on Friday, that its preliminary investigation “concluded that it was not possible to definitively determine the source of the shooting that hit and killed Ms. Abu Akle.”

She added that she may have been killed by Palestinian militants who fired at Israeli military vehicles, or she was unintentionally wounded by an Israeli soldier who fired back.

The Palestinian Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement on Friday saying that initial investigations had concluded that the only source of fire in the area where Abu Okla was wounded was an Israeli.

In a unanimously agreed statement on Friday, the 15-member UN Security Council strongly condemned the killing and called for an “immediate, thorough, transparent, impartial and impartial investigation.”

On Friday, Israeli forces resumed raids on the outskirts of Jenin, where Abu Akleh was killed, and the Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 Palestinians were wounded.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the killing of an Israeli policeman in an exchange of fire in Jenin.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said that the events in Jerusalem and Jenin may push the two sides to a dangerous escalation.

Abu Aqla’s death drew widespread condemnation. Video footage taken moments after she was shot showed Abu Okla, 51, wearing a blue jacket with the word “press.”

At least two of her colleagues who were with her said they were shot by an Israeli sniper and that they were not close to the gunmen.

Israel, which expressed its regret over Abu Okla’s death, suggested a joint investigation with the Palestinians, and demanded that they provide the bullet for examination.

The Palestinians rejected the Israeli request and called for an international investigation.

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(Report) Maayan Lobel and Rami Amichai in Jerusalem. Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and the Moroccan struggle in Gaza. Andrew Mills in Doha, Michelle Nichols in New York, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason in Washington and Costas Pettas in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Heavens, John Boyle, Alistair Bell and Himani Sarkar

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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