Israeli Police Attack Mourners Before Funeral for Palestinian American Journalist

JERUSALEM — In life, Shireen Abu Akleh, an acclaimed Palestinian American broadcaster, was one of many main chroniclers of the Israeli-Palestinian battle.

Her loss of life, whereas overlaying an Israeli raid within the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, turned her into one of many battle’s most distinguished latest victims. Palestinian witnesses and officers mentioned Ms. Abu Akleh, 51, lengthy a well-recognized face on the Al Jazeera community, was shot by Israeli troopers, although Israeli officers mentioned she might have been struck by both Palestinian or Israeli hearth.

Then, on Friday in Jerusalem, her funeral was marred by one other burst of violence. And as along with her loss of life, it was marked by clashing narratives.

Early on Friday afternoon, as 1000’s of individuals massed in East Jerusalem for one of many largest Palestinian funerals in latest reminiscence, a phalanx of Israeli riot police assaulted a gaggle of mourners carrying the coffin containing Ms. Abu Akleh’s physique, inflicting them to virtually drop it.

The Israeli police later mentioned that they had intervened as a result of the mourners, who wished to hold the coffin by foot to the funeral, had refused to place it in a hearse, an association the police mentioned had beforehand been agreed to with Ms. Abu Akleh’s household.

But the police intervention drew shock and condemnation each in Israel and past, with the assault on mourners thought to be egregious no matter its motive.

It was the newest and maybe most startling salvo of probably the most violent interval in Israel and the occupied territories, outdoors of full-scale warfare, in a number of years.

The assault occurred outdoors a hospital in East Jerusalem, the place Ms. Abu Akleh’s physique had been saved since one other memorial on Thursday, and the place a whole bunch had gathered to witness the beginning of her funeral cortege.

Tensions arose between Palestinians and Israeli law enforcement officials after the Palestinians started waving Palestinian flags and chanting nationalist slogans. They escalated after the police refused to permit mourners to take the coffin on their shoulders to the church, in keeping with Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, a senior overseas diplomat who witnessed the dispute.

That prompted a standoff between mourners, who wouldn’t permit the hearse to strategy the hospital, and the police, who refused to allow them to go away with the coffin, Mr. Kühn von Burgsdorff mentioned.

At the White House, the press secretary Jen Psaki described video footage of the conflict as “deeply disturbing” and mentioned, “We regret the intrusion into what should have been a peaceful procession.”

Israel’s regional cooperation minister, Esawi Frej, one of many first Arabs to function an Israeli minister, mentioned on Twitter that the police power had “desecrated” Ms. Abu Akleh’s reminiscence and funeral, producing “a needless flare-up.” He added: “The police showed zero respect for the mourners and zero understanding of its role as the organization that is responsible for maintaining order, not its violation.”

As the standoff escalated, Mr. Kühn von Burgsdorff, the European Union envoy to the Palestinians, tried to mediate between the police and the mourners, he mentioned. Realizing it was unimaginable to influence the police to vary their thoughts, Ms. Abu Akleh’s brother, Anton, additionally requested the mourners to place the coffin within the hearse, Mr. Kühn von Burgsdorff added.

But neither aspect would again down, because the mourners held onto the coffin and waved Palestinian flags in opposition to the calls for of the police. East Jerusalem is usually populated by Palestinians, and a lot of the world views it as occupied territory — however Israel has annexed the world, considers it a part of its capital, and infrequently prevents expressions of Palestinian nationalism there.

After warning the group to cease chanting, unsuccessfully, and after three plastic bottles had been thrown within the path of the police, the police abruptly surged towards the mourners, video confirmed.

Officers swung their batons. They kicked and beat the boys carrying the coffin, forcing them backward. They knocked over one man who had backed into t he group carrying the coffin, then kicked him as he lay on the bottom, video confirmed.

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As they had been being hit, the coffin carriers briefly misplaced management of 1 finish of the coffin, which sagged instantly to the bottom. Mourners threw projectiles, together with what seemed to be a stick, and officers threw what seemed to be stun and smoke grenades.

An event meant as a second of catharsis had as a substitute descended into chaos — compounding the indignity and the ache that, to many Palestinians, Ms. Abu Akleh’s loss of life had embodied.

Ms. Abu Akleh had been shot useless early on Wednesday morning, throughout an Israeli raid on Jenin, a metropolis within the northern West Bank that’s dwelling to a number of perpetrators of latest lethal assaults on Israelis, and which has been the main target of a latest Israeli counterterrorism marketing campaign.

The Palestinian Authority’s public prosecutor, in a report launched Friday night time, concluded Ms. Abu Akleh had been shot intentionally by Israeli forces. The prosecutors mentioned they primarily based their findings on an post-mortem that concluded she had been shot within the head, bullet marks on a tree subsequent to the place she was killed and interviews with witnesses, together with one other Al Jazeera journalist who was shot within the again.

The Israeli Army had launched its personal preliminary findings into her loss of life simply hours earlier, concluding that it was “not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh.”

But for the primary time, the Israeli Army additionally used the report back to set out a state of affairs by which Israeli forces may need hit Ms. Abu Akleh.

The Israeli Army mentioned it could possible have to assess the bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh with the intention to draw a extra sure conclusion. The Palestinian Authority, which manages the a part of the West Bank the place the raid occurred, has possession of the bullet and has refused Israeli requests to evaluate it in an Israeli laboratory, beneath joint American and Palestinian supervision.

The confrontation on Friday capped an unusually tense and tumultuous two-month interval that has seen 19 Israelis and foreigners killed in 5 separate Arab assaults in Israel; greater than 30 Palestinians killed within the West Bank, largely in counter raids by the Israeli Army; a spasm of violence on the holiest website in Jerusalem; a brand new spherical of rocket hearth from Gaza; and the primary overlap between Ramadan, Passover and Easter in a era.

Ms. Abu Akleh had lined such battle for greater than 20 years, first making her title as a journalist amid the Palestinian rebellion generally known as the second intifada, which convulsed Israel and the occupied territories from 2000 to 2005.

She had initially studied to be an architect however in the end selected journalism “to be close to the people,” she mentioned in a brief reel shared by Al Jazeera quickly after she was killed on Wednesday. “It might not be easy to change the reality, but at least I was able to bring their voice to the world.”

In a 2017 interview with the Palestinian tv channel An-Najah NBC, she was requested whether or not she was ever afraid of being shot.

“We don’t throw ourselves to death,” she mentioned. “We go and we try to find where we can stand and how to protect the team with me before I think about how I am going to go up on the screen and what I am going to say.”

After the assault on the mourners, her coffin was finally positioned in a hearse and pushed to an entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians had crammed into the alleys resulting in the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin, the place her funeral befell.

Her coffin was carried there on foot.

Ben Hubbard contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, Hiba Yazbek from Nazareth, Israel, and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City.



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