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Jerusalem: Violence breaks out at funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh


Violence erupted as journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was released from the coffin, shot in the head in the occupied West Bank where she was covering an Israeli military raid, against a backdrop of persistent violence. Israeli police tried to disperse a crowd waving Palestinian flags. Images broadcast by local television show the coffin failing to fall to the ground.

He was eventually transported to the Old City where a mass was held in a packed Greek-Catholic church. The alleys of the Christian quarter on its outskirts were overflowing with onlookers who had come to attend the funeral of the 51-year-old American-Palestinian reporter who had grown up in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian sector of the city occupied and annexed by Israel.

The crowd followed the coffin to the cemetery. In the region of Jenin in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, clashes broke out during a new operation by the Israeli army; one Israeli soldier was killed while 13 Palestinians were injured, according to official sources.

It was in the Jenin refugee camp that Al Jazeera, Qatar TV reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot in the head while covering another Israeli raid. She wore a bulletproof vest marked “press” and a reporting helmet.

Israel, after saying that the journalist had “probably” succumbed to Palestinian fire, then claimed not to rule out that the bullet was fired by its soldiers. The Palestinian Authority, Al Jazeera and the government of Qatar have accused the Israeli army of killing her.

Violence in Jenin

The funeral of the icon of Palestinian journalism took place as fresh clashes erupted near and in the Jenin camp, a stronghold of Palestinian armed factions from which perpetrators of deadly attacks in recent months in Israel originated.

The Israeli army has launched several operations there to apprehend wanted Palestinians. On Friday, an Israeli soldier was killed during an operation in Burqin near Jenin “against terrorists”, according to an official statement.

In the Jenin camp, 13 Palestinians were injured, two of them seriously by gunshot, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The death of Shireen Abu Akleh has sparked a wave of emotion in the Palestinian Territories, in the Arab world where his reports have been followed for more than two decades, in Europe and in the United States. Several calls for a “transparent” investigation have been launched.

The Israeli army indicated that it was not immediately possible to determine the origin of the shooting which killed the journalist according to the preliminary results of its investigation. The shooting could as well be of Palestinian origin as of Israeli, according to her.

The Israeli authorities demand that the bullet be handed over to them in order to carry out a ballistic examination. They proposed that Palestinian and American experts be present during the review. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas nevertheless said on Thursday that he refused a joint investigation with Israel. “The Israeli authorities committed this crime and we do not trust them.”

A first autopsy was conducted in the West Bank shortly after his death but no results have been released.

“Goodbye”

Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of “deliberately” killing its star journalist. On Thursday, thousands of West Bank Palestinians paid their respects.

The portrait of the journalist, the seventh to be killed in the Palestinian Territories since 2018 according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), was waved at rallies in Turkey, Sudan and Lebanon, and projected onto a building in Doha, the capital of Qatar. .

Several demonstrations have also erupted spontaneously across the Palestinian Territories to protest his death. In the Gaza Strip, artists carved his name in the sand and painted a mural in his honor, while at the place of his death in Jenin, children laid flowers.

On the roof of a building in the central square of Ramallah in the West Bank, the huge billboard now displays a portrait of the journalist, accompanied by a sober message: “Goodbye Shireen, goodbye the voice of Palestine”.



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