JERUSALEM — On Friday, Israeli riot police pushed and beat pallbearers to the funeral of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Ab Akleh ,. This caused them to drop the casket in an unexpected start to a procession which turned into the most visible display of Palestinian nationalism in Jerusalem for a generation.
The scenes of violence are likely to increase the outrage and grief felt across the Arab world following the death of Abu Akleh. Witnesses claim that he was killed Wednesday by Israeli troops during a raid on the occupied West Bank. These scenes also highlighted the intense sensitivities about east Jerusalem, which is claimed by Israel and the Palestinians. This has sparked numerous rounds of violence.
Abu Akleh, 51, was a household name across the Arab world, synonymous with Al Jazeera’s coverage of life under Israeli rule, which is well into its sixth decade with no end in sight. A 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, she was revered by Palestinians as a local hero.
Thousands of people gathered to wave Palestinian flags and shout “Palestine!” The funeral was attended by thousands of people. It was believed to be the largest Palestinian funeral in Jerusalem since Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian leader and scion of a prominent family, died in 2001.
A large crowd assembled to transport her casket from the east Jerusalem hospital to the Catholic church in the Old City. A large number of mourners were wearing Palestinian flags and shouted, “We give our lives for you, Shireen
” Shortly thereafter, Israel police arrived and began pushing and kicking mourners. The helmeted riot police rushed to the scene and struck pallbearers. One man lost control of the casket, which was thrown towards the ground by the police. To disperse the crowd, police took Palestinian flags from people’s hands and used stun grenades.
Abu Akleh’s brother Tony said that the scenes “proved that Shireen’s reports and honest words…had a powerful effect .”
Al Jazeera correspondent Givara Budieiri stated that the police crackdown was similar to killing Abu Akleh. “It seems that her voice isn’t silent,” she stated during a broadcast by the broadcaster.
East Jerusalem, home to the city’s most important Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. It has claimed all of the city as its eternal Capital and annexed the eastern section in a move not recognized internationally.
The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem to be the capital of an independent future state. Any support for Palestinian statehood is routinely repressed by Israel. The conflicting claims to east Jerusalem often spill over into violence, helping fuel an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants last year and more recently sparking weeks of unrest at the city’s most sensitive holy site.
Except for prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Israel does not allow large gatherings of Palestinians and regularly clamps down against any demonstrations of support for Palestinian statehood.
Police said that the crowd was shouting “nationalist incitement”, ignored requests to stop, and then threw stones at them. Police said that the police were forced to take action. The police released a video in the which a commander outside of the hospital warns the crowd about the dangers of inciting the crowd and singing “nationalist songs “. An Israeli official stated that the details of the funeral were coordinated with the family to ensure that it ran smoothly. However, “masses began gathering around Shireen Abu Akleh’s hearse and chaos ensued.” This prevented the procession from following its planned route. According to regulations, the official spoke under anonymity.
Earlier this week, Abu Akleh’s brother said the original arrangement was to move the casket in a hearse from the hospital to the church, and that after the service, it would be carried through the streets to the cemetery. The reason why these plans were changed was not immediately known. However, the casket was carried by pallbearers who emerged from the hospital.
Al Jazeera stated in a statement, that the police action violated all international norms .”
” Israeli occupation forces beat the pallbearers after storming the French Hospital in Jerusalem. According to the network, it will continue to cover news and will not stop.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the images as “deeply disturbing .”
The focus should be on “marking the memory a remarkable journalist who died her life,” Psaki stated. “We regret the intrusion in what should have been peaceful procession .”
,” Psaki said.
During a Rose Garden event, U.S. President Joe Biden was asked whether he condemns the Israeli police actions at the funeral, and he replied: “I don’t