On Friday, Israeli police officers charged Palestinian mourners carrying the coffin of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh through Jerusalem’s Old City, in an outpouring of grief and outrage at her death.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered beside Abu Akleh’s coffin, waving Palestinian flags and screaming, “With our soul and blood, we will redeem you Shireen,” as they walked into the gates of St. Joseph’s Hospital.
In an apparent attempt to prevent them from carrying the coffin on foot rather than by car, Israeli police officers stormed through the courtyard gates and charged towards the crowd, with some striking pallbearers with batons and kicking them.
The party carrying the coffin backed up into a wall and almost dropped the casket, only to retrieve it just before stun grenades detonated on one end.
The brief violent events contributed to Palestinian indignation over Abu Akleh’s death, which has threatened to spark violence that has been on the rise since March.
On Wednesday, Abu Akleh was shot while reporting on an Israeli operation in the occupied West Bank. He has been covering Palestinian politics and the Middle East for more than two decades.
The killing of Abu Akleh was regarded by Palestinian sources as an assassination by Israeli forces. Initially, Israel’s government said Palestinian gunfire was to blame, but officials later said they couldn’t rule out Israeli gunfire.
Outside the hospital, a group of Palestinians whom Israeli police characterized as protesters began throwing stones at cops.
“The cops had no choice but to intervene,” they continued.
The photos disturbed the White House, according to press secretary Jen Psaki, and US officials will maintain in communication with Israeli and Palestinian authorities following 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.
The police’s actions were criticised by Egypt, Qatar, and Al Jazeera. The pictures were “extremely disturbing,” according to Deputy UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq, and the EU expressed its outrage.
Abu Akleh’s casket was placed in a vehicle that traveled for the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin in Jerusalem’s Walled Old City, where the funeral ritual proceeded calmly, just minutes after police intervened.
As the casket was taken to the Mount Zion Cemetery nearby, crowds of Palestinians crowded the small streets of the Old City.
Wreaths were placed over her tomb, and the Palestinian flag was draped over the burial cross as mourners paid their respects to Abu Akleh.
“We’re here because we are screaming for justice. Justice for Shireen Abu Akleh and justice for Palestine,” said one mourner, who did not want to be identified by name.
INVESTIGATIONS AND RAIDS
The Israeli military announced on Friday that its preliminary inquiry “concluded that it is not possible to pinpoint the source of the gunfire that hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh conclusively.”
She may have been killed by Palestinian militants firing at Israeli military vehicles or by an Israeli soldier responding fire, according to the report.
Initial investigations, according to the Palestinian Attorney General’s office, have revealed that the only source of gunfire in the area where Abu Akleh was injured was Israeli.
The 15-member United Nations Security Council denounced the assassination in a statement issued by consensus on Friday, calling for a “immediate, comprehensive, transparent, fair, and impartial investigation.”
Israeli forces continued operations on the outskirts of Jenin on Friday, killing Abu Akleh and wounding 13 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the shooting killing of an Israeli police officer near Jenin.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said developments in Jerusalem and Jenin could lead to a major escalation.