JERUSALEM: Palestinians rallied on Sunday to mark the “Nakba”, or catastrophe, 74 years after Israel’s creation, with condemnation spreading over a police raid on the funeral of a slain journalist.
The annual demonstrations across the occupied West Bank, annexed east Jerusalem and inside Israel came with tensions high over the killing of 51-year-old Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.
The Palestinian-American was shot dead by Israeli security forces on Wednesday during an Israeli raid in Jenin, a West Bank flashpoint. A Palestinian militant wounded in clashes there, Daoud al-Zubaidi, died from his injuries in an Israeli hospital on Sunday.
Israeli police have vowed to investigate the chaos that marred the day of Abu Akleh’s funeral, after television footage seen worldwide showed pallbearers struggling to stop the casket from falling to the ground as baton-wielding Israeli police descended upon them, grabbing Palestinian flags.
Palestinian wounded in clashes dies from his injuries
The scenes on Friday sparked international condemnation, including from the United States, United Nations and the European Union, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday calling for a “credible” investigation into Abu Akleh’s death as he offered condolences to her family.
Late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s foundation said Israeli police “attacking pallbearers” was “chillingly reminiscent of the brutality” seen at the funerals of anti-apartheid activists.
Israeli commentators joined the chorus lambasting the raid as Abu Akleh’s coffin emerged a Jerusalem hospital.
In leading Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Oded Shalom said the footage “documented a shocking display of unbridled brutality and violence”.
“The Jerusalem District Police decided to come down like a tonne of bricks on anyone who dared to hold a Palestinian flag,” Shalom wrote.
“As if holding up a flag — a mere piece of cloth, for God’s sake — at a funeral procession for an hour or two could have had any impact whatsoever” on Israeli claims to control over Jerusalem, he added.
Israeli police regularly crack down on people holding Palestinian flags.
Gaza crossing reopened
Israel reopened on Sunday its only crossing with the Gaza Strip to Palestinian workers nearly two weeks after closing it over unrest, the defence ministry said.
“Following an assessment of the security situation, it has been decided to open Erez Crossing for passage of workers and permit holders from the Gaza Strip into Israel, beginning on Sunday,” said COGAT, a unit of the Israeli defence ministry responsible for Palestinian civil affairs.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2022