The death of Shireen Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera’s acclaimed Palestinian correspondent — who was shot in the head last Wednesday while reporting a firefight between Israeli military forces and Palestinian fighters in the West Bank city of Jenin — has evolved from tragedy. to a full-blown diplomatic crisis for Israel.
A series of awkward responses to the journalist’s death and police’s catastrophic handling of her funeral on Friday, in which officers beat bearers with batons and dispersed the crowd with stun grenades, have exposed Israel to a diplomatic maelstrom, with criticism from even the the country’s strongest allies.
Israeli police did not respond to questions about the deployment of anti-terror police at the funeral or methods of riot control.
Videos of Abu Akleh’s coffin tipping over, slipping from the porters’ hands and nearly hitting the ground received a rare reprimand from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who personally called Abu Akleh’s family to express his condolences on the death of the victim. famous Palestinian-American journalist.
The United States was “deeply disturbed to see images of Israeli police barging into its funeral procession,” Blinken said in a statement. “We remain in close contact with our Israeli and Palestinian counterparts and call on everyone to remain calm and avoid actions that could further escalate tensions.”
In fact, the European Union said it was “appalled” by the scenes of Abu Akleh’s funeral and condemned “the disproportionate use of force and disrespectful behavior by the Israeli police against those taking part in the funeral procession.”
An Israeli police statement released Friday at midnight, the day of the funeral, claimed that a “crowd” had threatened the driver of the hearse carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin, disrupting plans “coordinated in advance by Israeli police along with the Abu Akleh family.”
“Israeli police intervened to disperse the crowd and prevent them from taking the coffin so that the funeral could proceed as planned in accordance with the wishes of the family,” the police said in a statement by the brother of the Israeli police. the journalist was torn to shreds. Tony Abu Akleh, who told CNN the police actions amounted to a “deliberate and brutal” attack.
Towards the end of a video, a commander appears to be reprimanding some officers.
Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem, where Abu Akleh’s body was being prepared for burial, was released Monday. a video of about a dozen Israeli police officers raiding his wards for no apparent reason.
Israeli police have announced an investigation into the incident, in which officers tore Palestinian flags from the hands of mourners and in one case prevented a mourner from approaching the procession because her headgear was in the colors of the flag, which is legal to display in Israel.
Over the weekend, it emerged that Jerusalem district commander Doron Turgeman had ordered his officers to confiscate Palestinian flags from Germany, where he was a member of a police delegation.
Turgeman has become infamous in recent years for his officers’ brutal policing, including attacks on foreign journalists covering protests against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Monday, Israeli media reported that police were investigating whether agents appointed to secure the funeral were even authorized to use batons†
The police’s definition of mourners as a “crowd”, which attracted worldwide attention, turned out to be a mistranslation of the words “lawbreakers and agitators”, which appeared in the Hebrew version of the police statement.
In a radio interview, Jonathan Conricus, a former spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, criticized the police for not employing English-speaking communications professionals. in Israel.
Conricus declined to explain his terminology when approached by The Daily Beast.
†Israel’s credibility is not very high in such events.†
A unanimous UN Security Council resolution demanding an independent investigation into how the trailblazing reporter was killed on the job, and a growing number of White House calls for an “immediate and thorough” investigation appear to be fruitless to throw.
Almost a week after Abu Akleh’s death, the investigation into the cause appears to have stalled. A Palestinian coroner who performed an autopsy and examined the bullet that passed through her helmet said the results were “inconclusive”.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the Israeli military was steadfast in its decision “to conduct a full investigation into this process”, but admitted it had not come to any results.
“We are in the midst of the investigation and I don’t want to rule out any scenario at this point,” he said, emphasizing the importance he attaches to “protecting human life and freedom of the press”, and requesting forensic data from the Palestinian government. .
But a quick analysis of open source data conducted by Bellingcat, the independent research organization, backs up witness statements that the shots that hit Abu Akleh were fired by the Israeli army†
A report entitled “Unraveling the Murder of Shireen Abu Akleh” concludes that it is highly probable that Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli soldier.
Israel has not made a good name for itself investigating the deaths of reporters killed in action. The Israeli military claims the death of 30-year-old photojournalist Yasser Murtaja is still under investigation, four years after he died of his injuries on April 6, 2018. Murtaja was shot in broad daylight while covering protests on the Gaza-Israel border. Like Abu Akleh, he carried an anti-aircraft gun with the word ‘PRESS’ on it.
Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai, also a former IDF spokesperson, admitted that, telling an Israeli radio station that based on past experience, “Israel’s credibility in such events is not very high.”