Israeli police said they would conduct an “investigation into the events that followed the funeral” of the Al Jazeera journalist Sherine Abu Akleh Friday.
“Unfortunately, during the funeral, intense violence broke out on the part of the participants, which aggravated the situation on the ground,” Israel’s Minister of Public Security, Omar Bar-Lev, said in a statement to CNN.
“The investigative team appointed by Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and headed by Brigadier General Anna Ben Mordechai – a seasoned commander familiar with the area where the funeral took place – will conduct a thorough investigation into what happened during the funeral the next day., in order to draw lessons from the incident. He added that these lessons are It will be presented to the police commissioner and then to me.”
Israeli police came under fire after Friday’s procession, which saw TV clips Officers demonstrated hitting mourners with batons, forcibly lowering Palestinian flags, and arresting flag bearers. One of the videos released by the Israeli police shows officers tearing Palestinian flags off the body as they carry Abu Akle’s coffin.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled in September 2021 that raising the Palestinian flag is not a criminal offense in Israel. However, CNN witnessed the arrest of at least two people who were carrying a flag during the Abu Okla motorcade.
“Raising the Palestinian flag does not constitute a crime under Israeli law,” Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi told CNN on Friday.
When Omar Bar-Lev was appointed Minister of Public Security for Israel, he issued a directive limiting the confiscation of Palestinian flags from protesters to cases where there was an immediate risk of disturbing the peace. But what the police are doing is in direct conflict with the minister’s orders… What we are seeing is the science phobia of the Palestinian flag,” he added.
When CNN asked for clarification of why Palestinian flags were lowered and individuals carrying the flag were arrested, the Israeli police forces responded with a statement, which was also shared publicly on its Twitter account.
Yesterday, the Israeli police prepared to facilitate a quiet and dignified funeral for journalist Shireen Abu Oqla, and coordinated the funeral arrangements with her family. Unfortunately, hundreds of hooligans tried to sabotage the party and harm the police.”
“The Israel Police supports its officers, but as a professional organization that seeks to learn and improve, it will draw lessons from the incident,” she added.
The mourners carried, on Friday, the coffin of Abu Akleh from Saint Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem, where her body remained until burial, but it was met with stiff resistance from the Israeli police, who forced her to transport the body by car. CNN reporters said a flash grenade and tear gas were fired.
The 51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist for Al Jazeera has been a prominent voice across the Arab world, providing what many said was “the voice of Palestinians’ suffering” and “their aspirations for freedom”.
It had a great impact on Palestine and all the people. “She left her fingerprint on everyone’s heart,” Lareen Abu Okla, Sherine’s niece, told CNN.
Nafisa Khuwais, a Palestinian who considered herself a mother figure to Sherine, told CNN that she spent the whole night at the funeral home as people came to mourn the veteran journalist.
Sherine is my daughter. Her parents are dead, but we are all her parents. Khois said.
Two weeks ago, she hid me behind her back when clashes broke out at the Pillar Gate, and she said to me: ‘Mom, come here. I am very worried about you and you handed me a bottle of water. I loved Shireen. It was the voice of all Palestinians.
Friday’s events sparked a global response from several officials who said they were “shocked” by what they saw.
We were deeply disturbed by the images of the Israeli police interfering with the funeral of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh. In a tweet on Twitter on Friday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that every family deserves their loved ones to rest in dignity and without hindrance.
A senior State Department official later said Blinken spoke to the journalist’s family and expressed his condolences as he headed to an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany.
The official said Blinken offered his “deepest condolences for their loss.” The official said Blinken also offered the State Department’s Jerusalem team continued support for their families and noted the importance of a free and independent press.
Norway’s ambassador to Israel, Kar As, said in a tweet that he was “shocked by the violent behavior of the Israeli police forces during the funeral procession,” adding that “such disproportionate force is inappropriate and unacceptable.”