JERUSALEM – The funeral of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shirin Abu Akleh began in chaos on Friday when Israeli police hurled grenades at Stan and beat mourners with sticks as a group tried to carry their coffins on their shoulders instead of loading them. A hearing
Al Jazeera news channel correspondent Abu Akleh was shot dead Wednesday while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank. The network and the Palestinian Authority say he was shot by Israeli troops. Israel says he was caught in crossfire. The military said Thursday it was examining the possibility that one of its soldiers had been shot dead, after Palestinian gunmen were blamed.
Friday’s funeral marked the second day of a commemorative event honoring Abu Akleh, who has been reporting for Al Jazeera for more than two decades. A Thursday ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah drew crowds of thousands of mourners, many of whom wept and rushed to touch the coffin of a figure who had long been known in the air around the Arab world.
For Palestinian journalists, a colleague died near his home
According to media reports, the route of his funeral was agreed upon by the police and Abu Akleh’s family, and included his body being taken to a Catholic church in the Old City of Jerusalem and then a procession to the Christian cemetery where he was. Will be buried in the family plot.
By noon, hundreds of people had gathered at the entrance to St. Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem, where Abu Akleh’s body had rested all night. Minutes before the procession left the hospital, dozens of Muslim men knelt in the parking lot and lined up for Friday prayers. Behind them, holding two mournful large flower crosses. Then the crowd gathered, waving the Palestinian flag.
“God is the greatest,” some say in Arabic. “From Jerusalem to Jenin, God bless your soul, Shirin.”
But a group of men in the crowd intercepted a listener from backing up at the hospital door, saying they wanted to carry his body on their shoulders. The stalemate eventually persuaded Akleh’s brother, sitting on a man’s shoulder, to plead with the crowd to listen. “For God’s sake, let’s get him in the car and finish the day,” he said.
“Shoulder, shoulder!” People shouted slogans, and beat Shravan with a stick until it moved a second time. The crowd cheered when people finally pulled the coffin over their shoulders, followed by a stretcher carrying the journalist’s blue bullet-resistant jacket.
But at the hospital gate, Israeli police refused to allow the crowd to enter, and within minutes, a squad in riot gear advanced, hurling grenades at Stan and beating the mourners. People are scattered among the thrown bottles and stone cascades. At one point, Abu Akleh’s coffin leaned against the ground, but the Palbears were able to hold it high.
Standing in the compound, with a police post, heavy Israeli guards from the hospital compound listened to the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Israeli security agencies said they were prepared for the possibility of clashes on Friday, especially in areas around the Old City that have seen scenes of fighting between police and Palestinian protesters in recent weeks. According to local media reports, officials were advised to “reduce friction” with those attending the funeral.
That tactic was followed in the afternoon, after the church service, when thousands of people joined the procession as Abu Akleh’s coffin was taken to Mount Zion Cemetery. They waved the Palestinian flag “Jerusalem Arab.”
“I’ve known him all my life,” said Aya Odeh, who traveled from Nablus in the West Bank. “I feel like I’ve lost my mother.”
Rima Bakleh, a Jerusalem sociologist who joined the same church as Abu Akleh, said he was forced to come.
“I can at least do this to attend the funeral of this iconic woman who has changed the history of Palestine,” he said. “For the first time, he was able to raise the Palestinian flag by thousands of Palestinians. [Jerusalem’s] Jaffa Gate. ”
In a White House briefing Friday, Press Secretary Jane Saki described the beating as “deeply disturbing.” “It simply came to our notice then.
Abu Akleh’s assassination has emerged as the latest flashpoint in the long-running tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Abu Akleh and two other journalists with eyewitnesses told the Washington Post that there was no fire near where he was killed.
The story of five journalists killed covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israel is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to share forensic and ballistic evidence with Israeli investigators, a request that Palestinian officials have so far explicitly rejected. International diplomats have reportedly sought to broker a joint or shared investigation with experts from a neutral third country.
A Palestinian forensic expert said on Wednesday that the bullet that killed Abu Akleh had not been fired at close range, but that it was not yet possible to determine whether it came from Israeli weapons.
Palestinian officials on Thursday refused to return the bullet for Israeli analysis. The IDF said it had secured weapons at the scene if the bullets were allowed to enter for ballistic comparisons.
Eventually, crowds carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin along the walls of the Ottoman era poured it into the graveyard, threading through the tombstone to see his coffin reach his resting place. An Israeli helicopter hovered overhead, but one day what began in chaos ended peacefully.