Many of the thousands who bypassed checkpoints in occupied East Jerusalem openly waved Palestinian flags to join the funeral procession. They sang the national autonomy anthem and chanted “Palestine! Palestine!” Police said the mourners were “disturbing public order”. Footage shows the coffin resting on people’s shoulders outside St. Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem as officers approach and attack people. There was the sound of a stun grenade, the windows of the hearse shattered. Israel bans the public display of Palestinian flags and often prevents people from flying them at rallies and protests in the city. Prominent Palestinian figure Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter that “Israeli special forces brutally attacked the funeral procession with the coffin” of Abu Akle as he was leaving St. Joseph’s hospital.
The EU said it was appalled by the “unnecessary” force used by Israeli police, while the White House called images from the scene “deeply disturbing”. “The EU and like-minded partners attended the funeral of Shirin Abu Akle in occupied East Jerusalem. I am shocked by the violence on the grounds of St. Joseph Hospital and the level of excessive force used by the Israeli police during the funeral procession.” the EU spokesman said in a statement.
Police presence throughout the day was significant, with roadblocks set up from Palestinian neighborhoods and entry denied at certain points in the Old City, even for accredited journalists. Around 150 police officers, including horse detachments, were stationed near St. Joseph’s Hospital. A hearse with Abu Akle’s coffin left the hospital grounds and arrived at the Jerusalem Church in the Old City for his funeral. Abu Akle’s brother, Anton, remained with his body throughout the day, urging others to ensure his peaceful and speedy burial. He held his coffin as he was carried from the church to the nearby Christian cemetery on Mount Zion. A crowd of mourning Christian and Muslim Palestinians sang pro-Palestinian chants, but no political statements were made.
Abu Akle was fatally shot in the head Wednesday morning in the West Bank city of Jenin during a gun attack on a small group of journalists covering a planned Israeli military incursion. The Israeli army said its troops returned fire after they came under “mass fire” in Jenin. Video of the incident showed Abu Akleh wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest clearly marked “press”. Ali Samodi, an Al Jazeera producer who was shot in the back, told The Guardian at the hospital that, contrary to what Israeli officials claim, there were no gunmen near them when the journalists were attacked.
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