Israeli forces have attacked the funeral procession of Shireen Abu Aqleh, the Palestinian-American journalist shot dead this week, with mourners dropping her coffin as they attempted to deflect kicks and baton strikes.
Police said that mourners were “disrupting public order” although footage shot at the scene seemed to provide little evidence of anything justifying a violent response. Those in attendance were waving Palestinian flags, which is forbidden in Israel.
Videos circulating on social media show police rushing in and attacking people as Abu Aqleh’s body was being carried out from St Joseph’s hospital in East Jerusalem. Mourners were very vocal and singing the Palestinian national anthem, but appeared to be generally peaceful in nature. A stun grenade can be heard in the footage, and the windows of the hearse were smashed.
The event has been met with criticism on the international stage. The EU said it was “appalled by the violence” whilst the US, normally reluctant to voice any criticism of Israel, described footage from the scene as “deeply disturbing”.
“EU and likeminded partners attended the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh in occupied East Jerusalem. Appalled by the violence in the St Joseph hospital compound and the level of unnecessary force exercised by Israeli police throughout the funeral procession,” the EU said in a tweet.
Israeli police said they had held talks with Abu Aqleh’s family prior to the funeral to ensure the event passed peacefully.
“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,” the force said in a statement.