There were disturbing scenes in the heart of the Middle East on Friday as thousands of Palestinians flocked to Jerusalem to pay their last respectswho was killed two days ago while covering an army raid in the occupied West Bank. Al-Jazeera said that Israel warned Abu Oqla’s brother against limiting the size of the funeral procession, and told him that Palestinian flags should not be raised and no slogans should be chanted. The network said he rejected the warning, which was difficult to heed given the intense sadness and outrage over the journalist’s murder.
Videos broadcast by Al Jazeera – which has accused Israeli forces of deliberately opening fire on Abu Akleh – showed Israeli riot police pushing and shoving mourners out of a Jerusalem hospital and firing tear gas as people tried to carry her coffin outside the hospital morgue on Friday.
At one point her coffin seemed to collapse to the ground amid the melee. Shells were seen flying in the air as Palestinians chanted anti-Israel slogans.
Israel had beefed up security in Jerusalem ahead of the funeral, as Palestinian officials continued to support Al Jazeera’s allegations that Abu Okla had been killed by Israeli forces. The Palestinian Authority refused to cooperate with Israel in the investigation into her murder, despite calls from both Israel and the United States to do so.
The 51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist was apparently shot in the head while covering clashes in the sprawling Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, despite wearing protective equipment that she clearly described as a member of the press.
While the Israeli leader initially claimed it was “likely” she was hit by Palestinian gunmen who fired uncontrollably, the IDF chief saidIt could have been a bullet from an Israeli soldier.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said late Wednesday that it could have been “the Palestinians who shot her,” or shot “from our side” — seemingly reversing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s comments the day before about the Palestinian shooting.” Most likely” to blame.
“We are not sure how she was killed, but we want to know the truth about this incident and reveal the truth as much as we can,” Gantz said on Wednesday.
Abu Okla’s body was taken to Jerusalem from the West Bank for the funeral on Friday. The funeral procession began at the hospital in East Jerusalem, to be later paid in a church in the Old City before her body was buried with her parents in a nearby cemetery.
But the violence began as soon as Abu Akle’s sarcophagus was removed from the hospital gates, where Israeli security forces had assembled. A video clip showed them heading towards the funeral procession before they grabbed and beat some mourners, including those carrying the coffin.
US Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, retweeted a video of a BBC journalist showing Israeli forces beating mourners, calling it “horrific to watch” and saying his staff were “working to get answers about what happened”.
Eventually the chaos subsided and the procession moved to the church. Her coffin, followed by a large crowd, was carried to the cemetery, and there were no signs of further trouble along the way.
The Israeli military said Friday that a preliminary investigation showed there was a heavy exchange of fire between security forces and Palestinians about 200 yards from where Abu Okla was killed on Wednesday, but it was unable to determine which side fired the fatal shot.
at Declarationthe army reiterated the Israeli government’s assertion that Palestinian gunmen were recklessly shooting, including at an Israeli military vehicle near where the journalist was hit.
The military said it could not determine who shot the journalist without a ballistic analysis of the aircraft that killed Abu Okla. The Palestinian authorities did not allow Israeli officials access to the bullet that killed the Al-Jazeera correspondent.
Khaled Wassef of CBS News contributed to this report.