JERUSALEM: Israel’s police chief on Saturday ordered an investigation into the actions of officers at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, after they charged the procession and beat pallbearers, sparking global outrage.
Thousands of mourners packed Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday for the burial of the 51-year-old Al Jazeera reporter. The Palestinian-American was killed two days earlier during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.
Television footage showed pallbearers struggling to stop Abu Akleh’s casket from falling to the ground as baton-wielding police charged towards them, grabbing Palestinian flags.
“The Israel police commissioner in coordination with the minister of public security has instructed that an investigation be conducted into the incident,” the police said in a statement.
They had coordinated funeral arrangements with the journalist’s family but “rioters tried to sabotage the ceremony and harm the police,” it said.
“As with any operational incident, and certainly an incident in which police officers were exposed to violence by rioters and in which force was subsequently used by the police, the Israel Police will be looking into the events that ensued during the funeral,” it added.
The latest condemnation came when Spain’s foreign ministry, in a tweet, called “totally unacceptable” the scenes showing “disproportionate use of violence by the Israeli police” at the funeral.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed deep shock “that the funeral ceremony could not be held in peace and dignity.” The foundation of late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the police “attacking pallbearers” was “chillingly reminiscent of the brutality” during funerals of anti-apartheid activists.While the two sides traded blame, the UN Security Council in a rare, unanimous statement, condemned the killing and called for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation,” diplomats said.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera said Israel killed its reporter “deliberately” and “in cold blood”.
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022