Israeli actions at journalist’s funeral ‘disgraceful’, says Coveney

Israeli police baton charged mourners at the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh

There were violent scenes at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh in Jerusalem. Israeli troops appeared to wade in to the cortege causing pall-bearers to drop the casket holding the remains of the Al-Jazeera reporter shot on the West Bank.

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has condemned Israeli actions at the funeral of murdered journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and said they should be “roundly condemned” by the international community.

Video and photographic evidence from her funeral show Israeli police storming the coffin while beating and baton charging mourners.

In a tweet aimed at the Israel government, Mr Coveney stated: “These are disgraceful scenes of police brutality at a hugely sensitive funeral. No self-respecting democracy could stand over this treatment of people.”

He also backed calls for an independent investigation into the death of Ms Abu Akleh.

The journalist, a 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was a household name across much of the Arabic-speaking world. She was hit by a bullet to the head even though she was wearing a flak jacket bearing the word PRESS and a helmet.

The Qatari-based network blamed Israel. Palestinian authorities have described Ms Abu Akleh’s killing as an assassination by Israeli forces. Israel says she may have been hit by bullets fired by Palestinian gunmen.

The Palestinian Authority has said it would welcome international support in the inquiry into the death of Ms Abu Akleh. Israel said it would investigate the eruption of violence at her funeral.

Israel’s internal security minister Omer Barlev said that he and the police commissioner had appointed a panel to carry out “a comprehensive investigation of what happened during the funeral, in order to learn lessons from the event”.

Findings were to be presented in coming days.

Israel initially suggested Palestinian fire might have been to blame, but officials have since said they could not rule out it was Israeli gunfire that killed her.

The UN Security Council has strongly condemned the killing and called for an “immediate, thorough, transparent, and fair and impartial investigation”.

Hussein al Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official, said on Twitter the authority would welcome the participation of international bodies in its inquiry, though it has rejected an offer from Israel, which has voiced regret over Ms Abu Akleh’s death, to cooperate in the investigation.

Israeli police confront with mourners as they carry the casket of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in east Jerusalem, Friday, May 13th. Photograph: AP Photo/Maya Levin
Israeli police confront with mourners as they carry the casket of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in east Jerusalem, Friday, May 13th. Photograph: AP Photo/Maya Levin

Israel’s police said on Saturday it had tried “to facilitate a calm and dignified funeral ... and had co-ordinated the funeral arrangements with her family. Unfortunately, hundreds of rioters tried to sabotage the ceremony and harm the police.”

At a hospital in Jerusalem, a Palestinian died on Saturday of wounds inflicted during clashes with Israeli security forces three weeks ago at the al-Aqsa mosque compound. It was the first fatality from clashes at the sensitive holy site in several years.

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised a vigil at 1.30pm today at the top of Grafton Street near St Stephen’s Green to honour the memory of Ms Abu Akleh and call for her killers to be held to account. Representatives of the National Union of Journalists were present to protest at her death.

The behaviour of Israeli police at the funeral has been condemned worldwide. The US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken tweeted: “We were deeply troubled by the images of Israeli police intruding into the funeral procession of Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh.

“Every family deserves to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner.”

The EU’s high representative Joseph Borrell said the EU is “appalled” by the scenes which unfolded during the funeral which took place in occupied East Jerusalem.

“The EU condemns the disproportionate use of force and the disrespectful behaviour by the Israeli police against the participants of the mourning procession,” he said.

“Allowing for a peaceful farewell and letting mourners grieve in peace without harassment and humiliation, is the minimal human respect.

“The EU reiterates its call for a thorough and independent investigation that clarifies all the circumstances of Shireen Abu Akleh’s death that brings those responsible for her killing to justice.”

Condemned

Separately Ireland, along with France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden has condemned Israel’s decision to advance plans for the construction of more than 4,000 homes in the occupied West Bank.

“The new housing units would constitute an additional obstacle to the two-State Solution. Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and stand in the way of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” the joint statement said.

“This decision, as well as demolitions and evictions affecting the Palestinian populations in East-Jerusalem and Area C, directly threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state.” – additional reporting: Reuters