TV images show Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aqleh’s coffin falling as police grab Palestinian flags from crowd
Jerusalem — Israeli forces have attacked a funeral procession for a Palestinian American journalist shot dead this week, kicking and hitting people with batons and causing mourners carrying her coffin to lose balance and drop it to the ground.
Police said mourners were “disrupting public order”. Footage showed the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aqleh on mourners’ shoulders outside St Joseph’s hospital in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem as police rushed in and attacked people, several of whom held Palestinian flags. The sound of a stun grenade could be heard.
Israel forbids public displays of Palestinian flags and often prevents people from hoisting them at rallies and protests in the city.
A senior Palestinian figure, Hanan Ashrawi, tweeted that “savage Israeli ‘special forces’ viciously attack the funeral procession bearing the coffin” of Abu Aqleh as it left St Joseph’s hospital. “The inhumanity [of] Israel is on full display,” said the former Palestine Liberation Organisation official.
Police said they had held talks with Abu Aqleh’s family in order to “enable a respectable funeral. Unfortunately, under the auspices of the funeral and taking cynical advantage of it, hundreds of people began disrupting public order before [the funeral] even began.
“As the coffin was about to exit the hospital, stones began to be thrown at officers from the hospital’s plaza, and the officers were forced to use riot dispersal means.”
Police released a video in which an officer outside the hospital grounds addresses the crowd. “If you don’t stop these chants and [Palestinian] nationalistic songs we will have to disperse you using force and we won’t let the funeral take place,” the officer says.
Abu Aqleh’s coffin left the hospital grounds by vehicle and arrived at a Jerusalem church for her funeral.
The 51-year-old reporter was shot in the head on Wednesday morning in the West Bank city of Jenin during what her colleagues at the scene said was a burst of Israeli fire on a small group of journalists covering an expected Israeli military raid.
The Israeli military said its troops shot back after coming under “massive fire” in Jenin and that “there is a possibility, now being looked into, that reporters were hit – possibly by shots fired by Palestinian gunmen”. However, the Israeli military chief, Lt Gen Aviv Kochavi, later appeared to back away from those assertions, saying: “At this stage we cannot determine by whose fire she was harmed and we regret her death.”
Video of the incident showed Abu Aqleh was wearing a helmet and body armour clearly marked “press”. Ali Samodi, a producer for Al Jazeera who was shot in the back, told the Guardian from his hospital bed that contrary to claims made by Israeli officials, there were no gunmen standing near the journalists when they were targeted.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report
Shireen Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Credit: Al Jazeera, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Video broadcast by Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh’s employer, captures the sound of gunfire and yelling as Ms. Abu Akleh and her colleagues came under fire while covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
The footage does not show the moment when Ms. Abu Akleh was shot, but after audible gunfire in the first few seconds, a man can be heard yelling: “Ambulance! Ambulance!”
The filmer moves closer, and Ms. Abu Akleh is seen lying motionless face down as a man and another journalist, identified by the network as Shatha Hanaysha, try to reach Ms. Abu Akleh but are forced back by gunfire.
In the footage, both women are wearing protective vests marked “Press” and helmets.
Another Al Jazeera journalist in the group, Ali Samoudi, was shot in the back. From the hospital, he said that they were clearly identified as journalists before the attack. “We were obvious,” he said.
— Sarah Kerr, New York Times
Today, Israel assassinated Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Shireen is the face of Palestine for Al-Jazeera, the world’s most-watched Arabic-language media outlet.
Early this morning, she dressed in her press vest and helmet to once again cover the everyday horrors of Palestinian life under brutal occupation.
To be clear, Shireen was not simply executed by a single bullet precisely delivered by a single sniper. She was executed by a racist apartheid movement built on the notion that Palestinians are foreigners in our own land. Based on the belief that we don’t deserve life. And if you’re American, like I am, like Shireen is, that sniper’s bullet, and his elite training, were paid for by you and me, with the full support of our leaders.
Shireen is a daughter of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. She is a voice for the voiceless. An example. She is every Palestinian’s sister. She has told the truth about Palestine for over twenty years. And today, Israel decided that she had said enough.
And yes, I will keeping talking about Shireen in the present tense. I will never say “was” about her. That’s what they want. But they don’t get to steal her from us.
And they don’t get to steal her truth either. As if on cue, Israel immediately started telling everyone she was shot by Palestinians, while a number of Palestinian eyewitnesses and fellow journalists all told the same story: There were no Palestinians, only Israeli military, in the area.
But see, this has been Israel’s game for 74 years. They have always tried to convince you that we Palestinians have all been telling the same, unchanged, coordinated lies since 1948.
While we Palestinians are really smart, no conspiracy is that good.
In the face of a rifle that sees us as unworthy of basic human life, there is only one reason we Palestinians haven’t surrendered after all this time. And that’s because the truth resides with us.
Shireen knows that. That’s why she chose her path in life. And that’s why her work will continue, no matter what happened this morning in Jenin.
Part one of a three-part series. Part two is at https://iakn.us/VidBetray. For citations see https://iakn.us/3Ded9MU. If you don’t want U.S. politicians to give Israel over $10 million per day and spend an additional $10 million per day of our tax money on behalf of Israel, tell your Congress members here: https://iakn.us/No20Mill
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12 Noon Central Time
Join Christian Peacemaker Teams-Palestine and the Good Shepherd Collective for a conversation on international structures and funding sources that perpetuate racism and the Israeli Occupation in Palestine.
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10 am Central Time
If Not Now and the Palestine Institute of Public Diplomacy (PIPD) present an hour long virtual tour of Palestinian neighborhoods and cities to demonstrate how Apartheid as practiced by Israel — and supported by US funding — is not some abstract concept, but a lived reality for millions of Palestinians every day.
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