Shireen Abu Akleh laid to rest in Jerusalem after brutal Israel police attack on Palestinian mourners

Shireen Abu Akleh laid to rest in Jerusalem after brutal Israel police attack on Palestinian mourners
Israeli forces attacked the hearse carrying Shireen Abu Akleh's body and arrested people trying to escort the car from the hospital to the church.
3 min read
13 May, 2022
Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is being laid to rest in Jerusalem's Mount Zion Cemetery [Andraous Jahshan]

Thousands of mourners flocked to Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral in Jerusalem on Friday, with Israeli police violently attacking mourners and blocking access to the cemetery where she was laid to rest.

The 51-year-old veteran Al Jazeera reporter was killed by Israeli forces while covering a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.

Israeli police charged at and brutally assaulted pallbearers carrying Abu Akleh's casket on Friday as they carried her body from the hospital in occupied East Jerusalem where it was being kept, in harrowing scenes broadcast live.

Officers fired tear gas and stun grenades, kicked, and beat Palestinians with batons, as they attempted to snatch national flags away. The assault almost caused the coffin to be dropped to the floor.

Crowds of mourners gathered to pay tribute to Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Thousands of Palestinians turned out in occupied Jerusalem to pay tribute to and mourn Shireen Abu Akleh [Andraous Jahshan]

"We are talking about a hospital. We are not talking about a battlefield," said an Al Jazeera journalist watching events unfold, adding that there were injuries.

Reacting to the attack, Al Jazeera senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said: "This is unbelievable, unbelievable.

"Oh my God. Such disrespect for the dead and for those who are mourning the dead.

"Please tell me – and maybe our viewers around the world will tell us – how are these people a threat to Israel?"

Police claimed "stones began to be thrown at officers" before they were "forced to use riot dispersal means" – but the footage broadcast by Al Jazeera showed peaceful mourners, including coffin-bearers, being attacked without any signs of provocation.

An Israeli officer outside the hospital threatened Palestinians on a loudspeaker, a video published by the police showed.

Those gathered were told: "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 Palestinian flag is banned by Israel, and its forces commonly use violence against people carrying it in Jerusalem during big public events.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it dealt with dozens of injuries, The New Arab's sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, reported.

A vide of the inside of the church at Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral
A view inside the church where Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral mass was held [Andraous Jahshan]

Abu Akleh's body was then placed in a hearse – which Israeli forces attacked, preventing anyone from escorting the car from the hospital to the church.

Israeli security would not allow her body to be carried out of the hospital on foot and refused to let her brother, Anton Abu Akleh, sit in the hearse.

They closed the hospital gates, sprayed skunk water, and arrested mourners.

Anton described Shireen as "the sister of all Palestinians", speaking with AFP.

Another mourner, Hadil Hamdan, said: "Her voice entered every home, and her loss is a wound in our hearts."

Before the funeral, Israel had demanded of Abu Akleh's family that there be no chants or Palestinian flags raised during the procession and that a hearse be used to transport her body - but mourners refused to comply.

Near the Catholic church where her funeral mass was said, police again assaulted participants, and a Palestinian flag was pulled off her casket.

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After mass, Israel shut the Old City's Hebron Gate, preventing Palestinians from reaching the Mount Zion Cemetery where Shireen was laid to rest next to her parents.

A church source said 13 Jerusalem churches from different Christian denominations rang their bells in mourning.

Abu Akleh was a Melkite Catholic.

Agencies contributed to this report.