- Middle East An Al Jazeera journalist dies in an Israeli military raid in the northern West Bank
- Terrorism Five dead near Tel Aviv in the third attack in seven days in Israel
Thousands of Palestinians have participated in the funeral of the Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, marked by tension, indignation and some clashes with Israeli police in East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) launch accusations around his death -and investigation- last Wednesday when he covered a raid in Jenn. In this area of the north of the West Bank, an agent of the anti-terrorist unit of the Israeli Police has died this Friday in new armed confrontations with militiamen of the Islamic Jihad.
At the epicenter of the controversy, the investigation into the origin of the bullet that ended the life of the well-known and veteran reporter. While the Palestinian leadership, like Al Jazeera, accuses Israeli soldiers of what it calls “cold-blooded murder,” Israel says its initial military report cannot establish whether Abu Akleh was hit by any of its soldiers or by militants. during the exchange of fire in the Jenin refugee camp and regrets that the ANP has refused to cooperate in a joint investigation.
The tension of the past few days resulted in Clashes outside St. Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem where his body was until his burial. Israeli policemen charged participants in the funeral procession who were carrying Palestinian flags with batons. Abu Akleh’s coffin almost ended up on the ground.
While the Palestinians denounced “the attack by the occupying agents” at the beginning of the funeral march, the Israeli Police affirm that before that moment “rioters began to throw stones at policemen from the square of the French hospital, and the policemen were forced to to act out”.
In a statement, it indicated that “about 300 rioters prevented the relatives from loading the coffin into the hearse to travel to the cemetery as planned and coordinated in advance with the Police. The mob threatened the driver and proceeded to carry the coffin in a unplanned procession on foot against the wishes of the Abu Akleh family and the security coordination intended to protect the large number of funeral participants”.
The Israeli police action against members of the funeral procession in front of the hospital has been strongly condemned by the Palestinian leadership and Qatarand has led to top american officials to protest before Israel expressing, according to the Israeli outlet Walla, his “anger and frustration”. In a direct and unusual criticism of police from his regional ally, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has expressed “deep concern” over the images of charges at the Palestinian-American journalist’s funeral, noting that every family deserves to bury their loved ones “in a dignified and unhindered manner.” Some brief, intense and sad events that have also caused the condemnation of the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Joseph Borrell and the outrage of the Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation, Esawi Frej, who accused the agents who used violence of acting against the orders of the Minister of Internal Security, Omer Bar-Lev.
After the wave of internal criticism and external condemnation (which also includes the UN) for the violence seen in some images that went around the world, Bar-Lev and the chief inspector of the Police, Kobi Shabtai, have ordered an investigation of the work of its agents. “As in any operational incident, and certainly an incident in which officers were exposed to violence by rioters and in which police subsequently used force, the Israeli Police will investigate the events,” the statement released on Saturday reads.
For the thousands of Palestinians who have wanted to accompany one of their most admired journalists on her last journey to the Christian cemetery in Jerusalem, there is no doubt who was responsible for her death.
“The Israeli occupation is solely responsible for the murder. Shireen managed to enter the hearts of the Palestinians and was the voice of many,” said the lawyer and former spokesperson for the PLO, Diana Buttu, to the Al Jazeera chain, which, from the outset, has accused Israel of the death The massive funeral has also become an act of Palestinian vindication in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.
24 hours earlier, Abu Akleh received the official tribute from the PNA at the Mukata in Ramallah. After defining the journalist as “martyr of Jerusalem and of the truth and symbol of the Palestinian woman and fighting journalist”the president of the ANP, Abu Mazen, has rejected the Israeli request to investigate his death jointly.
“We reject a joint investigation with the Israeli occupation authorities because they committed the crime and because we don’t trust them,” he declared before confirming that take the case to the International Criminal Court. The ANP has announced that it will carry out an independent investigation and deliver its results to Qatar (owner of Al Jazeera) and the United States (the journalist also had her nationality). According to various local media, Washington is pressuring the PNA to collaborate with Israel in the investigation, including the delivery of the bullet.
“Whoever has nothing to hide cooperates to find out the truth. It is very suspicious that the Palestinians do not want a joint investigation,” responded several Israeli ministers while the head of the Government, Naftali Bennett, has asked the PNA “to refrain from disrupt or contaminate the investigation that should be carried out jointly by Israel and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, they refuse to do so.”
After denouncing that his country was accused “immediately and without evidence”, Bennett pointed out this Wednesday that it is “It is possible that the journalist was hit by Palestinian terrorists”, although he has clarified that they must wait for the result of the investigation. Today, the Israeli position is more cautious. The Israeli Army admits that, without being able to analyze the bullet to find out which weapon it belongs to, “it is not possible to unequivocally determine the origin of the shot that struck and killed Mrs. Abu Akleh.” It also points out that she was in a combat zone not far from the soldiers and militiamen in Jenin.
The initial military investigation presented this Friday offers two possibilities. “Hundreds of bullets were fired by Palestinian gunmen from various locations including dozens at military vehicles which is also the direction Ms. Abu Akleh was facing, making this a possible source of the shots that struck and killed her.” “, the Army has indicated before pointing to another option: “The shot of a soldier from a firing hole of his vehicle that responded to a Palestinian who fired multiple bursts at him.”
According to the Army, said vehicle was about 200 meters from Abu Akleh. The Al Jazeera producer, who has been injured, has accused the soldiers of killing Abu Akleh “in cold blood”.
Two days after the incursion into Jenin that ended with the exchange of fire and the death of the reporter, members of an elite unit of the Army and the Police returned to that area today to arrest several members of the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.
As in previous raids, they were met by armed opposition from Palestinians who managed to kill an Israeli policeman. Also, 11 Palestinians were injured and another five were arrested in the raid. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility this afternoon for the shots that killed the veteran agent of the YAMAM unit of the Israeli Police.