Shireen Abu Akleh: Israeli security forces attack mourners at Al Jazeera journalist's funeral causing them to almost drop coffin

May 13, 2022

Israeli police have fired tear gas and attempted to arrest mourners at the funeral in Jerusalem of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead whilst covering a raid.

Ms Abu Akleh, 51, was reporting on an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin on Wednesday when she was shot in the head whilst wearing a press vest.

Tear gas was fired outside the hospital where her body was being held in east Jerusalem, and a shrine destroyed.

An hour later, Israeli police arrested mourners chanting outside the Catholic church in Jerusalem's old city.

On Thursday, thousands of people gathered for a memorial service while her body was carried through the streets - with the bulletproof vest on top of the coffin.

At one point Israeli police even attacked the pallbearers, causing the coffin to slip and nearly crash to the ground.

The White House said images showing Israeli police officers charging at mourners carrying Ms Abu Akleh's coffin were disturbing.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said US officials would remain in close contact with Israeli and Palestinian authorities in the aftermath of the funeral.

Shortly before the funeral started, the IDF released preliminary findings from their investigation into the killing.

The report says it is still not possible to determine who fired the bullet that killed the journalist, but they concede it could have been an IDF soldier.

The findings will make little difference to the thousands gathered in Jerusalem to bury her - to Palestinians she was murdered and they have lost a voice that spent decades reporting on events in the West Bank

The situation remains very tense.

Reporters who were with Ms 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 on Wednesday.

All of them wore protective equipment that clearly identified them as reporters.

Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and for it to hand over the bullet for forensic analysis to determine who fired the fatal round.

The PA has refused, saying it will conduct its own investigation and send the results to the International Criminal Court, which is already investigating possible Israeli war crimes.

Ms Abu Akleh was a Palestinian-American reporter who covered the Middle East conflict for more than 25 years.

She 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.

Read more:
How two videos represent two versions of a journalist's death
Israeli PM Naftali Bennett reacts to Al Jazeera journalist's killing

Recent days have seen an outpouring of grief from across the Palestinian territories and the wider Arab world.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera had earlier said that its managing director, Ahmad Alyafei, would travel to Jerusalem to attend the funeral.

In the UK, the shadow foreign secretary and the Liberal Democrats' spokesperson for foreign affairs said the perpetrators needed to be held accountable for the killing.

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, tweeted: "There must be accountability for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.

"These scenes of mourners being beaten are indefensible and only heighten demands for justice and add to her family's pain."

Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP of Palestinian descent, tweeted: "Shireen was loved across the entire Arab world, regardless of which community. They should be allowed to mourn.

"The Israeli army storming the funeral like this completely unacceptable and I expect a full condemnation by
[Foreign Secretary] Liz Truss. But I know I won't get it."

She called for the UK government to "ensure a full, independent investigation is carried out".

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