Israeli police have assaulted mourners attending the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Palestinian-American journalist who was shot dead covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.
Video of the funeral process in East Jerusalem on Friday May 13 showed officers striking mourners, including the people carrying the Abu Akleh’s body, causing the them to almost drop the coffin.
Abu Akleh, one of the best known journalists in the Arab world, was shot in the neck on Wednesday May 11 while reporting on raids in the Jenin refugee camp and taken to hospital in critical condition, according to the Washington Post.
Al Jazeera, which Abu Akleh worked for, and the Palestinian Ministry of Health said the 51-year-old had been killed by the Israeli Defense Forces. An AFP photojournalist and several eyewitness reports also said the same.
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera said Abu Akleh had been wearing a helmet and press vest that clearly marked her as “Press” at the time.
The IDF initially said that there was a “high degree of probability” that Abu Akleh had been killed by Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire but later said it was not possible to determine the source of the gunfire that had hit her, according to the Guardian.
Thousands of people gathered ahead of Abu Akleh’s burial on Friday, which Al Jazeera reported Israeli forces would not allow.
Video later shared by police showed an empty plastic bottle and two other bottle-shaped objects had been thrown at the police before the violence erupted and lasted for about a minute, the New York Times reported.
Police then lurched towards the crowd, hitting mourners with batons and kicking them. Police also used stun and smoke grenades after the crowd threw more items such as a stick at the officers, according to the New York Times.
Israeli police said in a statement that they had been “forced to act” as “rioters began throwing stones” towards them.
After the coffin was put in the black hearse, Israeli police can then be seen ripping Palestinian flags off the vehicle as it headed towards the church in a video.
Spokespeople for the Israeli prime minister and public security minister both declined to comment, the New York Times reported.
Al Jazeera condemned the attack, saying in a statement it “violates all international norms and rights.”
A spokesperson for the UN’s Secretary-General said Antonio Guterres was “deeply disturbed” by the confrontation and the behavior of some of the police, the BBC reported.