It was around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13, when the bells of all the churches in Jerusalem rang out, in tribute to the Palestinian-American Al-Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, killed two days earlier, during an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. An impressive crowd of several hundred people accompanied the remains of this 51-year-old Christian, an icon of Palestinian journalism, to the Mount Zion cemetery, near the Old City in Jerusalem, after a mass pronounced in a packed Greek Catholic church.
→ READ. In the West Bank, shock and anger after the death of an Al-Jazeera journalist
The beginning of the procession gave rise, an hour earlier, to shocking scenes. Several dozen members of the Israeli security forces intervened to disperse demonstrators surrounding the coffin of Shireen Abu Akleh, outside St. Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem. Under the violence of the assault, his coffin even almost fell to the ground, arousing the anger and amazement of many observers and the Al-Jazeera channel.
“Attacking people carrying a coffin!” »
“I have never seen such a scene, look! Attack innocent people carrying a coffin! I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say anymore. What are they waiting for? It’s unbelievable, unbelievable”commented live a journalist from the Qatari antenna. “The Israeli army asks people if they are Christians or Muslims. If you are Muslim you are not allowed to enter”reported Imran Khan, another reporter for the channel.
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“Dreadful and inhuman! » reacted on Twitter Hala Abou-Hassira, the head of the Palestine Mission in France. Even in death, in full mourning, Israel continues in its inhumanity! » The Israeli police justified their use of riot dispersal means in the courtyard of St. Joseph’s Hospital by the fact that stones had been thrown in its direction. The presence of Palestinian flags, among the demonstrators and on the coffin of the journalist would also be at the origin of their intervention, the tricolor banners being prohibited in Israel and in the Holy City.
“If you don’t stop these nationalist songs, we will have to disperse you using force and we will prevent the funeral from taking place”said an Israeli policeman through a megaphone in the direction of the crowd, according to a video released by the police.
“The shot may also have come from our side”
The death of Shireen Abu Akleh, shot in the head on Wednesday May 11 while covering an anti-terrorist operation in Jenin, shocked the Palestinians and the Arab world in general. Al-Jazeera immediately accused Israeli forces of killing “deliberately” and of ” cold blood “ its star journalist, as is the government of Qatar.
After initially implying that the journalist had been shot by a Palestinian fighter, the Israeli army now claims not to be “certain of how she was killed”. “Maybe it was a Palestinian who shot her, said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. The shot may also have come from our side, we are investigating. » A first autopsy was conducted in the West Bank shortly after the journalist’s death, but no results have been released.