Police clash with mourners at Palestinian journalist’s funeral

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Palestinian protesters hold a photo of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh chanting slogans at Israeli police, who was killed in an attack in Jenin in the occupied West Bank near her home in Jerusalem on May 11, 2022. REUTE

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian mourners crowded around the coffin of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as Israeli police began a funeral procession in Jerusalem on Friday conflict.

Television footage showed masked police facing dozens of Palestinians waving flags and chanting slogans inside the compound of St Joseph’s Hospital in Israel-annexed East Jerusalem.

Police then rushed into the crowd, and the group carrying her coffin leaned against the wall at one point, nearly dropping it, picking it up before one end hit the ground.

The scenes of violence underscore growing anger over the killing of Abu Akler, which threatens to further fuel an already bitter conflict.

Abu Akleh, who has covered Palestinian affairs and the Middle East for more than 20 years, was shot and killed Wednesday while reporting on Israeli attacks in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority described Abu Akleh’s killing as an assassination by Israeli forces. The Israeli government initially said the Palestinian fire might be to blame, but officials also said they could not rule out an Israeli shooting that killed her.

On Friday, Israeli police said a group of Palestinians they described as rioters had begun throwing stones at the hospital compound. “The police were forced to take action,” they added. The Palestinian Authority had no immediate comment.

A few minutes later, Abu Akleh’s coffin was placed in a vehicle bound for the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Jerusalem’s Walled Old City, where the ceremony took place peacefully.

Investigations and Raids

The Israeli military said on Friday that its preliminary investigation “concluded that the source of the gunshots that hit and killed Ms. Abu Ackley could not be definitively identified.”

The investigation raised two possibilities, the military said in a statement. The first was that Abu Arkle was hit by Palestinian militants, who fired dozens of bullets at Israeli military vehicles, “which is also where Ms. Abu Arkle was.”

Second, an Israeli soldier fired back at the gunman from a jeep, inadvertently hitting her. The military said the vehicle was about 200 meters from Abu Akly.

Israeli forces on Friday resumed raids on the outskirts of Jenin where Abu Akler was killed.

At least 13 people were injured, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. The military said an Israeli police officer was seriously injured in what it called an anti-terrorist operation.

The Jenin Brigade, an armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, said its fighters were engaging in armed clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin, which residents said had arrested an Islamic Jihad militant.

Abu Akleh’s death has drawn widespread condemnation. Video footage after she was shot showed Abu Akleh, 51, wearing a blue vest marked “Press.”

At least two colleagues with her said they were under fire from Israeli snipers and that they were not close to the militants.

Israel, which regrets the death of Abu Ackley, has proposed a joint investigation with the Palestinians, asking them to provide bullets for inspection.

Palestinians rejected Israel’s demands. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Israel bears full responsibility and called for an international investigation.

Israel has stepped up raids amid deadly Israeli attacks. Since March, Palestinians and members of Israel’s Arab minority have killed 18 people, including three police officers and a security guard, in attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have largely targeted civilians.

Some of the attackers were from the Jenin region. Israeli arrest raids in the West Bank have often sparked clashes, bringing the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces or armed civilians to at least 42 since the start of the year. Casualties included armed members of the militant group, individual attackers and bystanders.

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