Israeli police on Saturday insisted they had attacked the funeral procession of murdered American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh because her coffin had been stolen by a violent mob.
“Israeli police prepared yesterday to facilitate a calm and dignified funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and had coordinated the funeral arrangements with her family. “Unfortunately, hundreds of rioters tried to sabotage the ceremony and harm the police,” said Israeli police. uploaded to Twitter.
In a number of previous ones tweets Friday, Israeli police also said the rioters were so out of control that they even threatened the driver of Akleh’s hearse before trying to snatch the coffin.
Shocking video footage shows Israeli authorities rushing into crowds in Jerusalem holding batons and then attacking veterans – almost causing Abu Akleh’s coffin to fall to the ground.
“On Friday, about 300 rioters arrived at Saint Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem and prevented family members from loading the coffin into the hearse to travel to the cemetery – as planned and coordinated with the family,” Israeli police said on Twitter.
“Instead, the mob threatened the driver of the hearse and then proceeded to transport the coffin in an unscheduled procession to the cemetery on foot. This was contrary to the wishes of the Abu-Akleh family and the security coordination designed to protect the large number of mourners.
“Israeli police have ordered the coffin to be returned to the hearse, as has the [European Union] of the ambassador and of Shireen Abu-Akleh’s own family, but the crowd refused. Israeli police intervened to disperse the crowd and prevent them from taking the coffin, so that the funeral could proceed as planned according to the wishes of the family.
“During the riot instigated by the mob, glass bottles and other objects were thrown, injuring both the mourners and the police.
President Joe Biden has called for an investigation into Israeli police who put sticks in the procession – with outgoing White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki calling the incident “deeply worrying.”
The incident took place shortly before a closed-door meeting at the White House between Biden and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Abu Akleh, 51, was fatally shot in the head on Wednesday as he covered an Israeli raid on the northwestern city of Jenin. He hails from a Palestinian Christian family and has worked for the Qatar-based news channel since 1997.
Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Authority to hand over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh for forensic analysis to determine who fired it. The PA refused, saying it would conduct its own investigation and send the results to the International Criminal Court.