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 of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and beat pallbearers who almost dropped her coffin.

Thousands of mourners packed Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday for the burial of the 51-year-old Al Jazeera journalist, two days after she was killed during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

The United States was “deeply troubled to see the images of Israeli police intruding into her funeral procession,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

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Israel and the Palestinians traded blame after Abu Akleh was shot in the head on Wednesday near Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. She had been wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest marked “Press”.

The Palestinian public prosecution said an initial probe showed “the only origin of the shooting was the Israeli occupation forces”.

In a rare, unanimous statement, the UN Security Council condemned the killing, calling for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation,” diplomats said.

Abu Akleh, a Christian and a Palestinian-American, was a highly respected 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 Jerusalem Red Crescent said 33 people were injured, of whom six were hospitalised. The Israeli police said they arrested six people.

The United States, European Union and United Nations have backed calls for a full investigation into her killing.

A PA official said on Saturday that the authority would welcome the “participation of all international bodies in the investigation”.

– ‘Sister of all Palestinians’ –

She “was the sister of all Palestinians,” her brother Antoun Abu Akleh told AFP.

Police said the commando, father of six Noam Raz, was wounded “during a shootout with armed terrorists,” and later died.

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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