Outcry after Israeli police beat mourners at journalist’s funeral

The United States and the EU led an international outcry on Saturday after Israeli police charged into the funeral procession of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and beat pallbearers who nearly knocked over her coffin.

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

The United States was “deeply disturbed to see the footage of Israeli police intruding on his funeral procession,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

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

The Palestinian prosecutor’s office said an initial investigation showed that “the only origin of the shots 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 Palestinian-American, was a well-respected journalist and her funeral drew massive crowds.

Police said around ‘300 rioters’ arrived at the hospital for the motorcade and ‘stopped family members from loading the coffin onto the hearse to proceed to the cemetery – as had been planned and coordinated with the family in advance.

The Jerusalem Red Crescent Society said 33 people were injured, six of them hospitalized. Israeli police said they arrested six people.

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have backed calls for a full investigation into his murder.

An AP 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 say the commando, father of six Noam Raz, was injured “in a shootout with armed terrorists”, and later died.

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

Tension was already high after a wave of anti-Israeli attacks that have killed at least 18 people since March 22, including an Arab-Israeli policeman and two Ukrainians.

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Originally published as Outcry after Israeli police beat mourners at journalist’s funeral

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