Monday, May 16, 2022

Shireen Abu Aqla: Violence at Al Jazeera reporter’s funeral in Jerusalem

By Raffi Berg
BBC News

Media caption,

WATCH: Violent scenes at the funeral of Shireen Abu Aqla

Israeli police have hit mourners at the funeral of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aqla, whose killing in the occupied West Bank has precipitated a surge of anger.

Her coffin virtually fell as police, some utilizing batons, waded right into a crowd of Palestinians gathered round it.

Police mentioned they acted after being pelted with stones.

Abu Aqla was shot lifeless in disputed circumstances on Wednesday, with Israel and Palestinians buying and selling blame. The killing has been broadly condemned.

Footage confirmed a standoff between police and Palestinians gathered across the coffin in the hospital compound, earlier than officers push the gang again, with some beating and kicking mourners. Police mentioned officers “were forced to use riot dispersal means”.

We have been in the automotive park of St Joseph’s hospital, the place lots of of Palestinian mourners had gathered prepared for Shireen Abu Aqla’s coffin to be carried out right into a ready hearse.

There was a shrine of written tributes, a floral crucifix (Shireen was a Palestinian Christian) and poignantly a press flak jacket among the many flowers. Many have been in tears. There was some chanting and Palestinian flags have been being flown.

Suddenly the gates to the compound have been closed and closely armed Israeli border police, some on horseback, appeared on the opposite aspect of them. Given the circumstances it already felt confrontational.

The coffin was introduced out of the constructing carried by a bunch of pallbearers. While the plan was for the procession to the church to make use of the hearse, the coffin was now being carried in the direction of the closed gates.

What occurred subsequent was extraordinary. I used to be behind the packed crowd so I could not see the entrance level of contact, however the Israeli police abruptly pushed again the gang, together with the coffin and its carriers.

They fired stun grenades in the direction of the mourners and the press and have been storming into the compound. From my vantage level – not at the entrance of the gang – I noticed a few plastic bottles being thrown again, nothing extra. People ran to take cowl contained in the hospital. I noticed a lady with a younger child in a provider sling distraught, virtually being crushed in the panic.

The echo of stun grenades rang out in the hospital corridors and wards. I noticed at least one man wounded.

This appeared to go on for round 10 minutes, as we sought a secure route again in the direction of the automotive park. After we got here out, the coffin left in the hearse by the gates. And now movies have emerged exhibiting what occurred whereas individuals have been speeding inside – Israeli police beating and kicking the pallbearers, who have been in retreat carrying Shireen Abu Aqla’s coffin. At one stage it practically slipped from their grasp, falling in the direction of the bottom.

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres mentioned he was “deeply disturbed” by the confrontations between Israeli safety forces and Palestinians and the behaviour of some police.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki additionally mentioned the photographs of police hitting mourners have been disturbing.

“We regret the intrusion into what should have been a peaceful procession,” she mentioned.

The Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera declare Abu Aqla was shot lifeless by Israeli forces, whereas Israel mentioned it was not but doable to find out what occurred and that she might have been killed by Palestinian gunfire.

An Israeli navy interim report on Thursday mentioned the deadly shot might have come from “massive fire from Palestinian gunmen”, or probably from “a few bullets” fired by a soldier “at a terrorist who was firing at his vehicle”.

Image supply, Al Jazeera

Image caption,

Sherine Abu Aqla was identified to hundreds of thousands for her protection of the Israel-Palestinian battle

Shireen Abu Aqla, a 51-year-old Palestinian American, was a veteran correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic information channel and had reported on the Israel-Palestinian battle for 20 years.

She was given the rarity of a funeral at the compound of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, the place her coffin was introduced draped in the Palestinian flag. President Abbas paid tribute to her, describing her as a “martyr of the free word” who “sacrificed her life” to defend the Palestinian trigger.

He mentioned Israel was “fully responsible for her killing” and that he would refer the case to the International Criminal Court, which investigates potential battle crimes.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has accused Mr Abbas of “throwing blame at Israel without any basis”.

Abu Aqla was in the Jenin refugee camp early on Wednesday to report on the Israeli raid. The Israeli navy mentioned the operation was to apprehend “terrorist suspects”.

It mentioned: “Tens of Palestinian gunmen fired at and hurled explosive devices toward the soldiers. The soldiers responded with fire toward the gunmen and hits were identified.”

Another Palestinian journalist, Al Jazeera producer Ali Samoudi, was shot and wounded through the violence.

The incident comes at a time of notably excessive rigidity between Israel and the Palestinians, after practically two months of one of many deadliest durations of violence in years. Israel has carried out operations in Jenin in the wake of a wave of killings of Israeli Jews by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in Israel and the West Bank.

Seventeen Israelis and two Ukrainians have been killed in stabbings, shootings, automotive rammings and an axe assault. In the identical interval, dozens of Palestinians have been killed – together with assailants shot lifeless whereas finishing up assaults, or militants and civilians killed throughout Israeli raids and confrontations.

Four of the Palestinians who carried out assaults in Israel got here from the Jenin district.

An Israeli police commando in the meantime was killed on Friday throughout clashes with Palestinian gunmen close to Jenin, police mentioned. The commando, who was 47, was shot lifeless throughout an operation to arrest a suspect, Israeli authorities mentioned.

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