Jerusalem: Violence at Journalist’s Funeral

Status: 05/13/2022 10:49 p.m.

Riots broke out at the funeral of television journalist Abu Akle, who was killed in the West Bank in Jerusalem. The UN reacted in shock to the alleged violence by Israeli security forces.

Thousands paid their last respects to slain Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akle in Jerusalem. Clashes erupted during the funeral procession. Hundreds of violent protesters caused unrest and threw stones at police officers, Israel Police said. According to Palestinian sources, the security forces threw stun grenades.

Israeli police used batons, prompting the pallbearers to momentarily drop the coffin to the ground, the AP news agency reported. “We are dying so that Palestine can live,” chanted the crowd. The dpa news agency reported that police on horseback and on foot attacked the mourners.

Police again accused the crowd outside the hospital from which the journalist’s body was taken of shouting hate speech. Demonstrators ignored requests to stop shouting and threw stones. “The police were forced to act,” according to the Israeli police.

Circumstances of death still unclear

The television journalist was shot and killed during an Israeli military operation in the occupied West Bank this week. At first it was unclear who was responsible for the death of the journalist, who is well known in the Arab world. She was buried in an Orthodox Christian cemetery near the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Israeli army reported a violent shooting involving dozens of Palestinian militants during a raid on the city of Jenin. The Israeli military has released the interim results of its investigation into the process, according to which it is currently not possible to say with certainty where the fatal shot came from.

The Israeli military said it could not be determined without ballistics analysis whether the deadly bullet was fired by Israelis or Palestinians. About 200 meters from where Abu Akle was shot in the head, Palestinians fired several times at an Israeli military vehicle. The Israeli soldiers returned fire.

Al-Jazeera speaks of premeditated murder

Al-Jazeera accused Israeli security forces of deliberately killing the 51-year-old. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also held Israel responsible and spoke of a “crime of execution”.

Israel denied the allegations and called for a joint investigation. However, the Palestinians refused. The Palestinian Authority, which holds the deadly bullet, has so far refused to hand over the bullet to the Israeli side.

The Palestinian attorney general’s office has since said only Israeli troops fired when the journalist was hit. Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted investigators as saying it was the result of crime scene investigations, witness interrogation and video evaluation. The Israeli troops were only about 150 meters from Abu Akle.

“It seems that his voice is not silent”

Abu Akle’s brother Tony said the funeral scenes showed the impact his sister’s stories had had. Al Jazeera correspondent Givara Budeiri said in his report that the police action was like killing Abu Akles a second time. “It seems his voice is not silent,” he said.

Al-Jazeera said the police action violated all international standards and rights.

UN and US shocked by violence at funeral

The UN was appalled by the alleged violence by Israeli security forces during the funeral. “We just saw the video and it’s really shocking to us,” spokesman Farhan Haq said. “Of course, as in all cases, we want to ensure that the fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and of course the right to freedom of peaceful protest are protected and respected,” Haq said.

President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki spoke of the “deeply disturbing” images. “We regret the disruption of what should have been a peaceful procession,” Psaki said. The United States had “advised respect for the funeral procession, mourners and family at this sensitive time”.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield was “deeply shocked by the images”, as she wrote on Twitter. “The tragedy of his murder must be treated with the utmost respect, sobriety and care.” The UN and the United States had called for an investigation into the murder.

Another deadly military operation in Jenin

Meanwhile, an Israeli Border Police officer was fatally injured in clashes with armed Palestinians in the West Bank, according to Israeli sources. During an anti-terror operation near Jenin, armed assailants fired on security forces and threw explosives, police and military said. The soldiers returned fire. The 47-year-old officer was injured leaving Burkin and taken to hospital.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 13 Palestinians have been hospitalized after being injured in the fighting. One person was shot in the stomach.

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