Israeli riot police on Friday clashed with mourners and pallbearers at the funeral for slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, beating them and causing the pallbearers to briefly drop the casket, according to a report by Reuters.
The violent incident happened during a procession that threatened to turn into perhaps the largest display of Palestinian nationalism in Jerusalem in a generation, according to the report.
“The scenes of violence were likely to add to the sense of grief and outrage across the Arab world that has followed the death of Abu Akleh, who witnesses say was killed by Israeli troops Wednesday during a raid in the occupied West Bank.
“They also illustrated the deep sensitivities over east Jerusalem — which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians and has sparked repeated rounds of violence,” it said.
At the funeral, thousands of people, with many waving Palestinian flags and chanting: “Palestine! Palestine!”, was believed to be the largest Palestinian funeral in Jerusalem since Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian leader and scion of a prominent family, died in 2001.
Ahead of the burial, a large crowd gathered to escort the casket from an east Jerusalem hospital to a Catholic church in the nearby Old City with many of the mourners holding Palestinian flags, and shouting, “We sacrifice our soul and blood for you, Shireen.”
“Shortly after, Israel police moved in, pushing and clubbing mourners. As the helmeted riot police approached, they hit pallbearers, causing one man to lose control of the casket as it dropped toward the ground. Police ripped Palestinian flags out of people’s hands and fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd,” it said.
The Palestinian public prosecutor said on Friday that preliminary findings show Abu Akleh was killed by deliberate fire from Israeli troops, but Israel’s military has rebutted the claims, saying she was killed during an exchange of fire with Palestinian militants, and that it could determine the source of the shot that killed her.
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