Outcry after Israel police beat mourners at journalist funeral


She ‘was the sister of all Palestinians’, Shireen Abu Akleh’s brother said of the slain journalist

The US and EU led an international outcry Saturday after Israeli police charged the funeral procession in Jerusalem of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and beat pallbearers who almost dropped her coffin.

Thousands of people packed Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday 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.

The United States said it was “deeply troubled” by the scenes, while the European Union said it was “appalled” by the “unnecessary force”.

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Israel and the Palestinians traded blame for the death of Abu Akleh on Wednesday who was shot in the head during the Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp.

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”.

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.

Abu Akleh, a Christian and a Palestinian-American, was a star reporter and her funeral drew massive crowds.

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 cemetery — as had been planned and coordinated with the family in advance”.

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.

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.”.

Thousands of Palestinian mourners attempted to follow the coffin towards the cemetery just outside the walled Old City.

– ‘Sister of all Palestinians’ –

The United States, European Union and United Nations have backed calls for a full investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.

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

– Fresh violence –

The Islamic Jihad group said its fighters were responsible.

The Palestinian health ministry said 13 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, one of them seriously.

Tensions were already running high after a wave of anti-Israeli attacks that have killed at least 18 people since March 22, including an Arab-Israeli police officer and two Ukrainians.

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