Global outcry over Israel police's action at Al Jazeera journalist's funeral
Published : Saturday, 14 May, 2022 at 5:01 PM Count : 560
The US and EU led an international outcry on Saturday after Israeli police charged the funeral procession in Jerusalem of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and beat pallbearers who almost dropped her coffin, reports AFP.
Thousands of people packed Jerusalem's Old City yesterday for the burial of the veteran Al Jazeera journalist, two days after she was killed in an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank.
Television footage showed the pallbearers struggling to stop Shireen Abu Akleh's casket from falling to the ground as baton-wielding police officers charged towards them, grabbing Palestinian flags from mourners.
The United States said it was "deeply troubled" by the scenes, while the European Union said it was "appalled" by the "unnecessary force".
The Jerusalem Red Crescent said 33 people were injured, of whom six were hospitalised. Israeli authorities said six arrests were made after mourners had thrown "rocks and glass bottles".
Israel and the Palestinians traded blame for the death of Abu Akleh on May 11 who was shot in the head during the Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp.
The Israeli army said an interim investigation could not determine who fired the fatal bullet, noting stray Palestinian gunfire or Israeli sniper fire aimed at militants were both possible causes.
But the Palestinian prosecutor's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah said later the initial results of an investigation showed "the only origin of the shooting was the Israeli occupation forces".
Al Jazeera has said Israel killed her "deliberately" and "in cold blood".
In a rare, unanimous statement, the UN Security Council condemned the killing and called for "an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation," according to diplomats.
- 'Deeply disturbed' -
Abu Akleh, a Christian and a Palestinian-American, was a star reporter and her funeral drew massive crowds.
As her body left St Joseph's hospital in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Israeli police charged on mourners who had hoisted Palestinian flags.
Police said about "300 rioters" had arrived at the hospital for the procession and "prevented the family members from loading the coffin onto the hearse to travel to the cemeter as had been planned and coordinated with the family in advance".
The police then intervened "to disperse the mob and prevent them from taking the coffin, so that the funeral could proceed as planned." Glass bottles and other objects were thrown at the police, it added in a statement.
The United States was "deeply troubled to see the images of Israeli police intruding into her funeral procession today," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
"Every family deserves to be able to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner."
The EU said 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.".
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was also "deeply disturbed" by the violence, according to a spokesman.
Thousands of Palestinian mourners attempted to follow the coffin towards the cemetery just outside the walled Old City.