International

Israeli Police Attack Mourners Before Funeral for Shireen Abu Akleh


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 Financial institution on Wednesday, turned her into one of many battle’s most outstanding current victims. Palestinian witnesses and officers stated Ms. Abu Akleh, 51, lengthy a well-known face on the Al Jazeera community, was shot by Israeli troopers, although Israeli officers stated she might have been struck by both Palestinian or Israeli fireplace.

Then, on Friday in Jerusalem, her funeral was marred by one other burst of violence. And as together 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 current reminiscence, a phalanx of Israeli riot police assaulted a bunch of mourners carrying the coffin containing Ms. Abu Akleh’s physique, inflicting them to virtually drop it.

The Israeli police later stated they’d 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 stated had beforehand been agreed to with Ms. Abu Akleh’s household.

However 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 struggle, in a number of years.

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

Tensions arose between Palestinians and Israeli cops 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 international 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 stated.

On the White Home, the press secretary Jen Psaki described video footage of the conflict as “deeply disturbing” and stated, “We remorse the intrusion into what ought to have been a peaceable procession.”

Israel’s regional cooperation minister, Esawi Frej, one of many first Arabs to function an Israeli minister, stated on Twitter that the police drive had “desecrated” Ms. Abu Akleh’s reminiscence and funeral, producing “a useless flare-up.” He added: “The police confirmed zero respect for the mourners and 0 understanding of its position because the group that’s liable for sustaining order, not its violation.”

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

However 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 generally populated by Palestinians, and many of the world views it as occupied territory — however Israel has annexed the realm, considers it a part of its capital, and infrequently prevents expressions of Palestinian nationalism there.

After warning the gang 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 lads carrying the coffin, forcing them backward. They knocked over one man who had backed into the group carrying the coffin, then kicked him as he lay on the bottom, video confirmed.

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 an alternative 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 lifeless early on Wednesday morning, throughout an Israeli raid on Jenin, a metropolis within the northern West Financial institution that’s dwelling to a number of perpetrators of current lethal assaults on Israelis, and which has been the main focus of a current Israeli counterterrorism marketing campaign.

The Palestinian Authority’s public prosecutor, in a report launched Friday evening, concluded Ms. Abu Akleh had been shot intentionally by Israeli forces. The prosecutors stated 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 Military had launched its personal preliminary findings into her loss of life simply hours earlier, concluding that it was “not attainable to unequivocally decide the supply of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh.”

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

The Israeli Military stated it might doubtless have to assess the bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh to be able to draw a extra sure conclusion. The Palestinian Authority, which manages the a part of the West Financial institution the place the raid occurred, has possession of the bullet and has refused Israeli requests to evaluate it in an Israeli laboratory, underneath 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 attacks in Israel; greater than 30 Palestinians killed in the West Bank, largely in counter raids by the Israeli Military; a spasm of violence on the holiest website in Jerusalem; a brand new spherical of rocket fire from Gaza; and the primary overlap between Ramadan, Passover and Easter in a era.

Ms. Abu Akleh had coated such battle for greater than twenty years, first making her identify as a journalist amid the Palestinian rebellion referred to 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 near the individuals,” she stated in a brief reel shared by Al Jazeera quickly after she was killed on Wednesday. “It may not be straightforward to alter the fact, however a minimum of I used to be in a position to convey 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 loss of life,” she stated. “We go and we attempt to discover the place we will stand and the right way to defend the workforce with me earlier than I take into consideration how I’m going to go up on the display and what I’m going to say.”

After the assault on the mourners, her coffin was finally positioned in a hearse and pushed to an entrance to the Previous Metropolis of Jerusalem. 1000’s of Palestinians had crammed into the alleys resulting in the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin, the place her funeral passed off.

Her coffin was carried there on foot.

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



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