Police clash with mourners at Palestinian journalist’s funeral

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Israeli police clashed with Palestinian mourners packed around the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh at the start of her funeral procession in Jerusalem on Friday.

Masked police officers faced scores of flag-waving and chanting Palestinians in the compound of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Reuters footage showed.

Officers then charged the crowd, backing the group carrying the coffin against a wall.

The casket was almost dropped, but was recovered just before hitting the ground.

The violent scenes underlined the growing anger over Abu Akleh’s killing which has threatened to add further fuel to an already raging conflict.

Abu Akleh, who had covered Palestinian affairs and the Middle East for over two decades, was shot while reporting on an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel is to blame for Abu Akleh’s death, speaking at a memorial ceremony on Thursday.

“We hold the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for her killing, and it will not be able to conceal the truth with this crime. This crime shall not pass without penalty.”

Israel’s government initially suggested Palestinian fire is responsible, but could not rule out it was Israeli gunfire that killed her.

Israeli police said they were “forced to act” before the funeral, after a group of Palestinians they described as rioters had begun throwing stones in the hospital compound. There was no immediate comment from Palestinian authorities.

A few minutes later, Abu Akleh’s coffin was placed in a vehicle that headed toward Jerusalem’s Walled Old City.

Mourners carried Abu Akleh’s coffin into the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin, where the ceremony proceeded peacefully.

UNSG appalled by the killing

Earlier, the United Nations Secretary General said he is appalled by the killing of Abu Akleh.

In a statement, UN Chief António Guterres sent his heartfelt condolences to the family of the journalist and wished a quick recovery to fellow journalist Ali Samoudi, who was wounded in the same incident.

Guterres also called on relevant authorities to carry out an independent and transparent investigation and ensure that those responsible are held accountable – echoing sentiments expressed by diplomats at the United Nations and US government officials.

SABC News’ UN correspondent Sherwin Bryce-Pease shares more: