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Israeli police to probe conduct at journalist's funeral

May 14, 2022

Israel's police chief has ordered a probe into the actions of officers at the funeral of reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem. Germany's top diplomat, Annalena Baerbock, said she was "deeply shocked" by the events.

Israeli police confront mourners at the funeral of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Security forces and members of the public clashed repeatedly as pallbearers carried the coffinImage: Maya Levin/AP Photo/picture alliance

Israeli police on Saturday launched an investigation into the conduct of officers at the funeral of slain veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Israeli Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev said he and the police commissioner had appointed a panel to carry out "a comprehensive investigation of what happened during the funeral."

Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American and correspondent for Al Jazeera, was killed on Wednesday while covering an Israeli military operation in the occupied West Bank. Thousands of mourners attended the 51-year-old's funeral in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday.

Television footage showed police charging at and beating a crowd of mourners carrying Abu Akleh's casket, setting off stun grenades and removing a Palestinian flag.

The police said they had coordinated funeral arrangements with the journalist's family, but "rioters tried to sabotage the ceremony and harm the police."

"The Israel Police supports its police officers, but as a professional organization that seeks to learn and improve, it will also draw lessons from the incident,'' the statement said.

The Jerusalem Red Crescent reported that 33 people had been injured during the procession, with six individuals taken to hospital. Six people were arrested, Israeli police said.

Funeral clashes spark global outcry

The violence drew global condemnation, including from the UN, the US and the European Union.

On Saturday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed deep shock "that the funeral ceremony could not be held in peace and dignity. Honestly, personally speaking, I am deeply shocked by this."

She said the media should "never become targets of violence" and called for a transparent investigation into the circumstances of the journalist's death.

Both Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have blamed Israel, saying soldiers shot Abu Akleh deliberately.

Al Jazeera reporter killed in West Bank

Israel has rejected the accusations and called for a joint investigation into the incident alongside the PA, saying the only way to determine who killed Abu Akleh would be to conduct a forensic examination of the projectile.

The PA has refused the request, saying it will conduct its own investigation and send the results to the International Criminal Court.

Hussein al Sheikh, a senior PA official, said Saturday on Twitter that the PA would welcome the participation of international bodies in its inquiry.

lo/nm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)