There were disturbing scenes in the heart of the Middle East on Friday as thousands of Palestinians flocked to Jerusalem to pay their last respects to, who was killed two days earlier when she launched an army attack on the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Al Jazeera said Israel had warned Abu Akleh’s brother to limit the size of the funeral procession, telling him that no Palestinian flags would be displayed and no slogans chanted. The network said it rejected the warning, which would be difficult to heed given the outpouring of grief and anger over the reporter’s murder.
Video clips broadcast on Al Jazeera — which accused Israeli forces of deliberately opening fire on Abu Akleh — showed Israeli riot police pushing and pushing mourners outside a Jerusalem hospital and firing tear gas as people tried to take her coffin outside the hospital’s morgue on Friday. wear.
At one point, her coffin almost seemed to fall to the ground during the fight. Projectiles were seen flying through the air as Palestinians chanted anti-Israel slogans.
Israel had bolstered security in Jerusalem ahead of the funeral, while Palestinian officials continued to support Al Jazeera’s claim that Abu Akleh had been killed by Israeli forces. The Palestinian Authority has refused to cooperate with Israel in investigating her death, despite calls from both Israel and the US to do so.
The 51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist was killed by an apparent gunshot to the head while covering clashes in the sprawling Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, despite wearing protective gear that clearly labeled her a member of the press.
While the Israeli leader initially claimed it was “probable” that she had been hit by fire from Palestinian gunmen who fired uncontrollably, the country’s military leader saidthat it could be a shot from an Israeli soldier.
Defense Secretary Benny Gantz said late Wednesday that it “could have been the Palestinians who shot her,” or shot her “from our side — and he echoes Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s comments the previous day about Palestinian gunfire.” likely” to blame.
“We’re not sure how she was killed, but we want to get to the bottom of this incident and get to the bottom of the truth as much as possible,” Gantz said Wednesday.
Abu Akleh’s body was transferred from the West Bank to Jerusalem for burial on Friday. The funeral procession began at the hospital in East Jerusalem, with final tributes then to be paid at a church in the Old City before her body was buried next to her parents in a nearby cemetery.
But the violence started as soon as Abu Akleh’s coffin was carried from the hospital gates, where Israeli security forces had gathered. Video showed them flocking to the funeral procession before grabbing a few mourners and rioting.
Eventually the chaos subsided and the procession moved on to the church. Her coffin, followed by a large crowd, was carried to the cemetery and there were no signs of further trouble en route.
The Israeli military said Friday that preliminary investigations showed a heavy firefight between security forces and Palestinians about 200 meters from where Abu Akleh was killed Wednesday, but it could not determine which side fired the deadly shot.
In a statement, the army reiterated the Israeli government’s claim that Palestinian gunmen had fired recklessly, including at an Israeli military vehicle near where the journalist was hit.
The military said it could not determine who shot the journalist without a ballistic analysis of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh. Palestinian authorities have not allowed Israeli officials access to the bullet that killed the Al Jazeera reporter.
Khaled Wassef of CBS News contributed to this report.