Joe Biden’s secretary of state has issued a statement condemning Israeli forces for their attack hours earlier on the funeral procession in Jerusalem of a Palestinian American journalist who was shot and killed this week.
“We are deeply troubled by the images of Israeli police intruding into the funeral procession of Palestinian American Shireen Abu Aqleh,” Antony Blinken’s statement on his official Twitter account read. “Every family deserves to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner.”
Blinken’s brief statement came after television cameras captured police in Israel storming Abu Aqleh’s funeral procession.
Dozens of Palestinians were packed around the coffin, some waving Palestinian flags and chanting, “with our soul and blood we will redeem you Shireen”.
When they began walking toward the gates of St Joseph’s hospital, Israeli police officers, in an apparent attempt to stop them proceeding by foot rather than taking the coffin by car, burst through the courtyard gates and charged at the crowd. Some beat pallbearers with batons and kicked them.
At one point the group carrying her coffin backed against a wall and almost dropped the casket, recovering it just before one end hit the ground as stun grenades detonated.
The violent scenes, which lasted only minutes, added to Palestinian outrage over Abu Aqleh’s killing, which has threatened to fuel violence that has surged since March.
The show of force came after people circumvented roadblocks in occupied East Jerusalem to join the slain Al Jazeera reporter’s funeral procession. Mourners chanted “Palestine!”, sang the Palestinian national anthem and waved Palestinian flags before Israeli police cracked down on the procession, accusing participants of disrupting public order.
Israel forbids the public display of Palestinian flags, even at rallies and protests.
Abu Aqleh died after being shot in the head in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday morning. Her colleagues have since said that she was killed in a burst of gunfire from Israeli forces on a small group of journalists covering an expected raid by Israel’s military.
The Israeli military issued condolences for Abu Aqleh’s death but has also maintained that its troops were returning fire at the scene and that the journalist may have actually been cut down by shots from Palestinian forces.
When she was killed, Abu Aqleh, 51, wore a helmet and body armor clearly marked “press”, according to video footage of her slaying.