Clashes in Jerusalem at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police clashed on Friday with Palestinians attending the funeral of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed this week while reporting in the West Bank.

Security forces, who faced dozens of protesters waving Palestinian flags and singing nationalist songs at the compound of St. Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem, charged at the start of the funeral procession, footage shows of TV.

The Palestinians carrying the journalist’s coffin were pushed towards a wall and nearly knocked the deceased down.

Israeli police said participants in the procession, whom they described as rioters, had started throwing stones. “The police were forced to act,” she said.

Qatar and Al Jazeera condemned the behavior of the police. UN spokesman Farhan Haq called the images “very shocking” and US envoy to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said she was “overwhelmed by these images”. The European Union said it was appalled.

Minutes later, Shireen Abu Akleh’s coffin was placed in a vehicle which headed to the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin in Jerusalem’s walled Old City, where the ceremony was held peacefully .

Shireen Abu Akleh, who had covered Palestinian affairs and the Middle East for more than two decades, was shot and killed while reporting on an Israeli operation in the West Bank on Wednesday.


The Israeli army said on Friday that its preliminary investigation “concluded that it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the shots that hit and killed Mrs. Abu Akleh”.

The investigation raised two possibilities, the army said in a statement. The first, that Shireen Abu Akleh was hit by Palestinian militants who fired dozens of bullets in the direction of Israeli military vehicles, “which is also the direction where Mrs. Abu Akleh was”.

The second, that it was hit by return fire from an Israeli soldier, who was in a jeep and aimed at a Palestinian gunman. The vehicle was about 200 meters from the journalist, the army said.

Israel offered the Palestinians a joint investigation and asked them to provide the bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh for examination.

The Palestinians refused Israel’s request and called for an international investigation.

Israeli forces resumed raids on the outskirts of Jenin on Friday, where Shireen Abu Akleh was killed, and the Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 Palestinians were injured.

The Palestinian group of Islamic Jihad meanwhile claimed responsibility for the death of an Israeli police officer during an exchange of gunfire in Jenin.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said events in Jerusalem and Jenin could lead to an escalation of tensions.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; French version Elena Vardon and Camille Raynaud, editing by Matthieu Protard)

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