Global outrage over Israel police’s action at Al Jazeera journalist’s funeral

Footage shows passengers struggling to stop Shirin Abu Aqleh’s coffin from falling

Jerusalem:

The US and the European Union today led an international outcry after Israeli police accused Palestinian journalist Shirin Abu Akleh’s funeral procession in Jerusalem and beat up those who nearly toppled his coffin.

Thousands packed Jerusalem’s old city yesterday for the burial of the veteran Al Jazeera journalist, two days after he was killed in an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank.

Television footage showed pallbearers struggling to stop Shirin Abu Aqleh’s coffin from falling to the ground, with police officers accusing them of grabbing Palestinian flags from mourners.

The United States said it was “deeply disturbed” by the scenes, while the European Union said it was “hurt” by “unnecessary force”.

The Jerusalem Red Crescent said 33 people were injured, six of whom were hospitalised. Israeli officials said the six arrests were made after mourners threw “rocks and glass bottles”.

Israel and the Palestinians hold it responsible for the death of Abu Akleh on May 11, who was shot in the head during an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp.

The Israeli military said an interim investigation could not determine who fired the fatal shot, noting that Palestinian shelling or Israeli sniper fire aimed at terrorists were both possible causes.

But the Palestinian prosecutor’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah said preliminary results of an investigation later showed that “the only origins of the shootings were the Israeli occupation forces”.

Al Jazeera has said that Israel killed him “intentionally” and “in cold blood”.

According to diplomats, in a rare, unanimous statement, the UN Security Council condemned the killing and called for an “immediate, thorough, transparent and impartial investigation”.

– ‘Very upset’ –

Abu Akleh, a Christian and a Palestinian-American, was a star reporter and huge crowds attended his funeral.

As his body left St Joseph’s Hospital in Israel-affiliated East Jerusalem, Israeli police charged mourners who had hoisted Palestinian flags.

Police said that “about 300 rioters” had arrived for a procession at the hospital and “prevented family members from loading the coffin on the coffin so that they could travel to the cemetery, as had been planned in advance and visit the family. was coordinated with”.

Police then intervened “to disperse the crowd and prevent them from taking the coffin, so that the funeral could proceed as planned.” In a statement, the police said that glass bottles and other things were thrown at the police.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “The United States was deeply disturbed to see images of Israeli police infiltrating his funeral procession today.”

“Every family deserves to be able to rest their loved ones in a respectful and uninterrupted way.”

The European Union said it was “shocked by the violence on the St Joseph’s Hospital complex and the level of unnecessary force used by Israeli police during funeral processions.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was also “deeply disturbed” by the violence, according to a spokesman.

Thousands of Palestinian mourners tried to chase the coffin towards the cemetery just outside the old city.

AFP journalists said police briefly tried to stop them, but eventually relented, causing thousands to flow to the grave and not intervene when Palestinian flags were waved.

– ‘Sister of all Palestinians’ –

In a sign of the prominence of Shirin Abu Akleh, he was described as having a full state memorial service on May 12 at the compound of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before his body was transferred to Jerusalem.

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have backed calls for a full investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh.

Israel has publicly called for a joint investigation, which has been rejected by the Palestinian Authority.

Condolences over the killing of Shirin Abu Akleh spread beyond the Palestinian territories, sparking protests in Turkey, Sudan and elsewhere.

She was “the sister of all Palestinians,” her brother Anton Abu Akle told AFP.

– fresh violence –

Fresh violence erupted in the West Bank on Friday, including raids and clashes around the Jenin refugee camp in which an Israeli commando was killed.

The Islamic Jihad group said its fighters were responsible.

The slain Israeli officer has been identified as Noam Raz, 47, the father of six years. Police said he was injured “during a gunfight with armed terrorists” and later died.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 Palestinians were injured in the clashes, one of whom was in critical condition.

An AFP photographer said Israeli forces had surrounded a suspect’s house, surrounded two men from inside and fired anti-tank grenades at the house in an attempt to pull them out.

Tensions were already raging after a wave of anti-Israeli attacks that have killed at least 18 people since March 22, including an Arab-Israeli police officer and two Ukrainians.

A total of 31 Palestinians and three Israeli Arabs have died during the same period, according to an AFP tally, including attacks and casualties by Israeli security forces in West Bank operations.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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