Dozens of Palestinians packed around Abu Akleh‘s coffin, some chanting, “with our soul and blood, we will redeem you, Shireen,” walked towards St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Israeli police forces charged Palestinian mourners who carried the coffin of Shireen Abu Aklen, an Al Jazeera journalist, on Friday. Thousands led her casket through the old city of Jerusalem while outpouring anger and grief over her killing.
The Israeli forces burst through the courtyard gates and charged at the crowd to stop the mourners from proceeding by foot rather than taking the coffin by car. Some beat the pallbearers with batons and kicked them. At one point, the group carrying her coffin backed against a wall and almost dropped the casket before recovering it. The violent scenes added to Palestinian outrage over Abu Akleh’s killing, threatening to fuel the violence that has surged since March.
The Palestinian authorities have described the killing as an assassination by the Israeli forces. The Israeli government initially suggested that Palestinian fire was to be blamed, but now officials have also said they couldn’t rule out the possibility that Israeli gunfire killed her.
According to the Israeli forces, a group of Palestinians outside the hospital described as rioters had begun throwing stones at officials. “The policemen were forced to act,” they added. U.S. press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters that the White House found the images disturbing. U.S. officials will remain in contact with Palestinian and Israeli authorities in the aftermath of Akleh’s funeral.
“Every family deserves to be able to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Al Jazeera, Qatar and Egypt condemned the actions taken by Israeli forces. Deputy U.N. spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said the scenes were “very shocking”, and the E.U. said it was appalling.
After the police intervention, Abu Akleh’s coffin was placed in a vehicle headed toward the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the funeral ceremony proceeded peacefully. Alleyways of the Old City were Crowded with Palestinians as they lined and carried the coffin to the nearby Mount Zion Cemetery.
Her grave was draped with a Palestinian flag and covered in wreaths; mourners surrounded it, paying tribute to Abu Akleh. “We’re here because we are screaming for justice. Justice for Shireen Abu Akleh and justice for Palestine,” said one mourner.
INVESTIGATIONS AND RAIDS
According to the Israeli military, its initial investigation “concluded that it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms Abu Akleh.” It said that she might have been hit inadvertently by an Israeli soldier returning fire or killed by shots fired by Palestinian militants.
On Friday, The Palestinian Attorney General issued a statement. It said the investigations have found that the sole source of gunfire in the area where Abu Akleh was hurt was Israeli. In a statement agreed by consensus, the 15-member U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the killing and called for an “immediate, transparent, fair, thorough and impartial investigation. The Israeli forces resumed their raids on the outskirts of Jenin, where Abu Akleh was killed. The Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 Palestinians had been wounded during the raids.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the death of an Israeli police officer in an exchange of gunfire in Jenin. A Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said: “events in Jerusalem and Jenin could push the sides into serious escalation.”
Two of her colleagues who were with her said that they were not close to militants and that they had come under Israeli sniper fire. Israel has proposed a joint investigation with the Palestinian authorities, asking them to provide the bullet for examination.
The Palestinian authorities have rejected Israel’s request and have called for an international investigation.