Mahmoud Illean / AP
Israeli police on Friday marched on a crowd of mourners at the funeral of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, beating protesters with batons and causing pallet carriers to briefly drop the coffin.
The intervention came during a rare display of Palestinian nationalism in East Jerusalem – the part of the holy city that Israel conquered in 1967 and which the Palestinians claim as their capital.
Israel says East Jerusalem is part of its capital and has annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. Israel routinely strikes at any form of support for the Palestinian state.
Thousands of mourners, some hoisting Palestinian flags and shouting “Palestine, Palestine,” attended the funeral of Abu Akleh, who according to witnesses was shot and killed by Israeli forces earlier in the week while covering a military attack on the occupied West Bank.
“We are dying for Palestine to live,” shouted the crowd. “Our beloved home.” Later, they sang the Palestinian national anthem.
Ahead of the service, dozens of mourners tried to march with the coffin on foot out of a hospital to a Catholic church in the nearby Old Town.
Police said the crowd at the hospital shouted “nationalist incitement”, ignored calls to stop and threw stones at police. “The cops were forced to act,” police said.
An outpouring of grief for a respected correspondent
Meanwhile, the Israeli military said its initial investigation into Abu Akleh’s death showed that a fierce firefight was underway in the West Bank city of Jenin, about 200 meters from the place where she was killed, but that it was unable to determine whether she was shot by Israeli forces or Palestinian militants.
Israel announced that an Israeli policeman was killed in new fighting in Jenin on Friday.
The last few days have seen a stream of grief from all over the Palestinian territories and the wider Arab world. Abu Akleh was a widely respected air correspondent who spent a quarter of a century covering the harsh realities of life under Israeli military rule, which is well into its sixth decade with no end in sight.
After the heated scene outside the hospital, police allowed the family to drive the coffin to a Catholic church in the old town, which was filled with mourners, before closing the hospital and firing tear gas at dozens of protesters.
After the service, thousands went to the cemetery, waving Palestinian flags and shouting “Palestine, Palestine.”
Several hours later, she was buried in a cemetery outside the Old Town.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera had previously said its chief executive, Ahmad Alyafei, would travel to Jerusalem to attend the funeral.
Calls for an inquiry, no agreement on who should do it
Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority and for handing over the bullet for forensic analysis to determine who fired the fatal round. The PA has denied, saying it will conduct its own investigation and send the results to the International Criminal Court, which is already investigating possible Israeli war crimes.
In a statement issued Friday, the military said Palestinian gunmen ruthlessly fired hundreds of shots at an Israeli military vehicle, some in the direction of Abu Akleh. It said Israeli forces returned fire and that without doing ballistic analyzes could not determine who was responsible for her death.
“The conclusion of the interim investigation is that it is not possible to determine the source of the fire that hit and killed the journalist,” the military said.
Mahmoud Illean / AP
Journalists who were with Abu Akleh, including one who was shot and wounded, said there were no clashes or militants in the immediate area when she was killed early Wednesday. All were wearing protective gear that clearly identified them as journalists.
Both sides are likely to cast doubt on any conclusions reached by the other, and there did not appear to be any possibility that a third party would conduct an independent investigation.
The PA and Al Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately killing Abu Akleh within hours of her death. Israel says a full investigation is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.
Rights groups say Israel rarely follows the investigation into the killing of Palestinians by its security forces and imposes lenient punishments in the rare cases where it does. However, this case gets a lot of attention because Abu Akleh was a well-known figure and also a US citizen.
Abu Akleh, 51, had joined Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language service in 1997 and rose to prominence, covering the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising against Israeli rule, in the early 2000s.
Ongoing matches in Jenin
She was shot in the head early Wednesday while covering an Israeli arrest march in Jenin. Palestinians from in and around Jenin have carried out a series of deadly attacks inside Israel in recent weeks, and Israel has launched almost daily arrest attacks in the area, often igniting gun battles with militants.
Israeli troops penetrated Jenin again early Friday. An Associated Press photographer heard gunshots and explosions, saying Israeli troops had surrounded a home.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said 13 Palestinians were hospitalized after being wounded in the fighting, including one who was shot in the stomach. The Israeli military tweeted that Palestinians opened fire as its forces went in to arrest suspected militants. Police said a 47-year-old member of a special Israeli command unit was killed.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem – including the Old City and its holy sites that were sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims – in the war of 1967. The Palestinians want both territories as part of their future state. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in a move that was not internationally recognized, and considers the entire city as its capital.
Police went to Abu Akleh’s family home in Jerusalem the day she was killed and have appeared at other mourning events in the city to remove Palestinian flags.
Israeli police beat funeral director Shireen Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera journalist: NPR
Source link Israeli police beat funeral director Shireen Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera journalist: NPR