Thousands Mourn at Jerusalem Funeral for Al Jazeera Journalist

Mourners react as Abu Akleh’s body arrives at a hospital in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem on May 12, 2022.

Thousands of people packed Jerusalem’s tense Old City on Friday for the funeral of veteran Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, after Israeli police stormed the start of the funeral procession.

Television footage showed pallbearers struggling to prevent Abu Akleh’s coffin from falling to the ground as police officers charged with batons and snatched Palestinian flags from mourners.

The Jerusalem Red Crescent said 33 people were injured during the procession, of whom six were hospitalized.

In the occupied West Bank, an Israeli commando was killed during a new firefight with armed Palestinians near the flashpoint city of Jenin. The Islamic Jihad group said its fighters were responsible.

The Israeli military said an interim investigation could not determine who fired the fatal bullet, noting that stray Palestinian fire or Israeli sniper fire aimed at militants were both possible causes.

Abu Akleh, a Christian and Palestinian-American, was a highly revered reporter and her funeral in her native Jerusalem drew massive crowds.

The Jewish state bans public displays of Palestinian flags and routinely intervenes against those who display them at demonstrations or other gatherings.

Police said they had warned the crowd to stop the “nationalist” songs and they were forced to act as “violent rioters (were) trying to disrupt the proper course of the funeral”.

The European Union tweeted that it was “dismayed by the violence at the St Joseph’s Hospital complex and the level of unnecessary force exerted by the Israeli police during the funeral procession.”

In Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based, the Foreign Ministry said: “The occupation forces were not content with killing Shireen… they also terrorized those who accompanied her to her final resting place.”

Police briefly tried to prevent the crowd from passing through Jaffa’s iconic gate but eventually relented, allowing thousands of people to make their way to the tomb and failed to intervene when Palestinian flags were waved, AFP reporters said.

In a sign of Abu Akleh’s prominence, she received what was described as a full state memorial service on Thursday at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s compound in Ramallah before being flown to Jerusalem.

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have backed calls for a full investigation into Abu Akleh’s murder.

Palestinian Authority official Hussein Al-Sheikh said the “Palestinian investigation would be completed independently.”

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

New violence broke out in the West Bank, including a raid and clashes around the Jenin refugee camp.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 Palestinians were injured in the clashes, one of them seriously.

Tensions were already rising 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.


Originally published as Thousands Mourn at Jerusalem Funeral by Al Jazeera Journalist

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