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Israeli forces’ attack at Shireen Abu Akleh funeral sparks outrage

1.1 Shireen Abu Akleh
Israeli occupation forces attack Palestinian mourners carrying the casket of slain Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of a hospital, before being transported to a church and then her resting place, in Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022. (Photos: AFP)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — TV footage showing pallbearers struggling to stop Shireen Abu Akleh's coffin from falling to the ground as baton-wielding Israeli occupation police officers charged toward them, sparked outrage and condemnation globally. اضافة اعلان

Washington said it was "deeply troubled" by the scenes — although the US stopped short of explicitly condemning Israel for the violence, according to Al-Jazeera —while the EU said it was "appalled" by the "unnecessary force."


Israeli forces detain a Palestinian during the funeral of slain veteran Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem on May 13, 2022, two days after she was killed while covering an Israeli army raid in the West Bank.

Thousands of people packed Jerusalem's Old City on Friday for the burial of the veteran Al-Jazeera reporter, two days after Israeli forces shot her in the head while she was covering a raid in the occupied West bank.

Israeli occupation forces then stormed the funeral procession.

According to the Jerusalem Red Crescent, 33 people were injured during the procession, of whom six were hospitalized. 

Israeli authorities said they made six arrests. A government official said mourners had thrown "rocks and glass bottles".

Investigations

Later on Saturday, Israel's police chief ordered an investigation into the actions of officers at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, after they charged the procession and beat pallbearers.

"The Israel police commissioner in coordination with the minister of public security has instructed that an investigation be conducted into the incident," the police said in a statement.

They had coordinated funeral arrangements with the journalist's family but "rioters tried to sabotage the ceremony and harm the police," it said

But Antoun Abu Akleh, the slain journalist's brother, said "there was no agreement between us and the police," who had asked the family how many people were expected to attend the funeral.

"We gave them the number of participants and the path of the funeral and this is what happened," he told AFP.

"We told the police that this is a national funeral and not a funeral for the Abu Akleh family, but a funeral for all the Palestinian people."

Saleh Hijazi, deputy regional director for Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International told Al-Jazeera that the attack is “consistent with policies and practices of Israeli apartheid against Palestinians whenever they want to repress and oppress freedom of expression, social and cultural rights.

“The record of Israeli investigations show that there is no will nor ability to investigate violations of crimes when it comes to Palestinians.”

The Palestinian Authority has rejected Israeli calls for a joint investigation, calling Israel an “occupying authority”.

The US, EU, and UN have backed calls for a full investigation into Abu Akleh's killing.

‘Inhumanity’

Occupation forces said they had warned the crowd to stop "nationalistic" songs and that they were “forced to act” as "violent rioters (were) trying to disrupt the proper course of the funeral", according to AFP.

But prominent Palestinian figure Hanan Ashrawi said the police charge on pallbearers showed Israel's "inhumanity".

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

The EU tweeted that it was "appalled by the violence in the St Joseph Hospital compound and the level of unnecessary force exercised by Israeli police throughout the funeral procession."

The US was "deeply troubled to see the images of Israeli police intruding into her funeral procession today," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

"Every family deserves to be able to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner."

US President Joe Biden discussed ways to address the rising violence in White House talks with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

"The leaders... discussed urgent mechanisms to stem violence, calm rhetoric, and reduce tensions," the White House said in a statement.

However, Al-Jazeera reported that when US President Joe Biden was later asked by reporters whether he explicitly condemned the Israeli actions at the funeral, he said: “I don’t know all the details, but I know it has to be investigated.”

The French consulate general said "police violence" at the hospital had been "deeply shocking".

Meanwhile on Saturday, the foundation of late Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Israeli forces charging the funeral of Abu Akleh is "reminiscent" of violence during apartheid South Africa.

"The scenes of members of the Israeli security forces attacking pallbearers at the funeral in Jerusalem of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh yesterday were chillingly reminiscent of the brutality meted out to mourners at the funerals of anti-apartheid activists in South Africa during our struggle for freedom," Mamphela Ramphele, director of the Desmond Tutu Foundation, said in a statement.

"As Archbishop Tutu taught us, the perpetrators of violence and human rights violations might think they are advancing their goals, but are in fact undermining their own humanity and integrity," she said.

Ramphele added that members of the Israeli security forces were "evidently responsible" for Abu Akleh being shot in the head on Wednesday as she covered news in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Thousands of Palestinian mourners attempted to follow the coffin towards the cemetery just outside the walled Old City. Despite an attempt by occupation forces to stop the mourners, thousands streamed towards the graveside. 

In a rare, unanimous statement, the UN Security Council on Friday condemned the killing and called for "an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation," according to diplomats, who noted negotiations over the wording were particularly contentious. 

'Sister of all Palestinians'

In a sign of Abu Akleh's prominence, she was given what was described as a full state memorial service on Thursday at Palestinian president Mahmmoud Abbas's compound in Ramallah before her body was transferred to Jerusalem.

"Her loss is a wound in our hearts," said mourner Hadil Hamdan.

Grief over Abu Akleh's killing spilt beyond the Palestinian territories, with protests erupting in Turkey, Sudan, and elsewhere.

She "was the sister of all Palestinians," her brother Antoun Abu Akleh told AFP.


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