Israeli Police Investigate ‘Events’ Over Burial of Palestinian Journalist Shirin Abu Akle – Minister

“Unfortunately, during the funeral, violent acts by the participants unfolded, which worsened the situation on the ground,” Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said in a statement to CNN.

“The Investigation Team, appointed by Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and led by Brigadier General Anna Ben Mordechai — an experienced commander who is intimately familiar with the area in which the funeral took place — will conduct a comprehensive investigation into what happened during the funeral during the funeral. the next day to learn from the incident. These lessons will be presented to the police commissioner and then to me,” he added.

Israeli police have come under fire following Friday’s march in which television footage shows policemen beating mourners with batons, forcibly removing Palestinian flags and arresting people carrying the flag. In one video released by the Israeli police, police officers are seen tearing Palestinian flags from a hearse with Abu Akle’s coffin.

In September 2021, the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court ruled that flying the Palestinian flag is not a criminal offense in Israel. However, CNN witnessed the arrest of at least two people carrying the flag during the Abu Akle procession.

“Raising the Palestinian flag is not a crime under Israeli law,” Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi told CNN on Friday.

“When Omer Bar-Lev was appointed Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he issued a directive restricting the confiscation of Palestinian flags from demonstrators to cases where there was an immediate risk of disturbing public order. But what the police are doing is in direct conflict with the minister’s orders. … What we see is the flagophobia of the Palestinian flag,” he added.

Asked by CNN for clarification on the reason for removing Palestinian flags and arresting flag carriers, the Israeli police responded with a statement that was also posted on its Twitter account.

“Yesterday, the Israeli police prepared to hold a peaceful and dignified funeral for journalist Shirin Abu Akle and coordinated the organization of the funeral with her family. Unfortunately, hundreds of rioters tried to disrupt the ceremony and harm the police,” the statement said.

“The Israeli police stand by their police officers, but as a professional organization that is committed to learning and improving, it will also learn from this incident,” the agency added.

On Friday, mourners carried Abu Akle’s coffin out of St. Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem, where her body remained until burial, but met strong resistance from Israeli police, who forced them to transport the body by car. A stun bomb and tear gas were used, according to CNN reporters.

The 51-year-old Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist was a well-known voice in the Arab world, delivering what many called “the voice of Palestinian suffering” and their “desire for freedom.”

Shirin Abu Akle's niece Larin, 19, attends her aunt's funeral procession in Jerusalem.  Her poster reads:

“She had a huge impact on Palestine and all people. She left her imprint on everyone’s heart,” Larin Abu Akle, Shirin’s niece, told CNN.

Nafisa Khwais, a Palestinian woman who believed she was Shirin’s mother, told CNN she spent the night at a funeral home where people came to mourn the veteran journalist.

“Shirin is my daughter. Her parents are dead, but we are all her parents. We are all her family,” Kwais said.

“Two weeks ago, she hid me behind my back when clashes broke out at the Damascus Gate, and told me: “Mom, come here. I’m so worried about you” and handed me a bottle of water. I loved Shiren. She was the voice of all Palestinians,” she said.

Nafisa Khwais, 63, sits outside Shirin Abu Akle's home in Ramallah where mourners have gathered.

Friday’s events sparked a global backlash from various officials who said they were “shocked” by what they saw.

“We were deeply disturbed by images of Israeli police invading the funeral procession of Palestinian-American woman Shirin Abu Akle. Every family deserves to bury their loved ones with dignity and unhindered,” said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. tweet on Friday.

Later, a senior State Department official said that Blinken spoke with the journalist’s family and expressed his condolences on the way to an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany.

Blinken expressed “deep condolences for their loss,” the official said. Blinken also offered the continued support of the State Department team in Jerusalem to their family and noted the importance of a free and independent press, the official said.

Norwegian Ambassador to Israel Kare R. Aas tweeted that he was “shocked by the brutal behavior of the Israeli police during the funeral procession”, adding that “such disproportionate force is inappropriate and unacceptable.”

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