White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the scenes of a funeral procession in Jerusalem for a Palestinian-American journalist who was fatally shot during an Israeli raid “deeply disturbing,” as widely shared footage shows Israeli officers beating pallbearers carrying the coffin with the body of Shireen Abu Akleh.
“We’ve all seen those images. They are clearly very disturbing. This is a day when we all, including everyone out there, should mark the memory of a remarkable journalist who lost her life,” Ms Psaki said from the White House on Friday, May 13.
“With the disturbing images of the funeral procession in Jerusalem today, we regret the intrusion of what should have been a peaceful procession,” she said. “We urge respect for the funeral procession, the mourner and the family at this sensitive time.”
She added that the Joe Biden administration remains “in close contact with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities”.
According to witnesses and the Palestinian health ministry, on May 11, the longtime Al Jazeera journalist was shot dead by Israeli forces while covering Israeli army raids on the city of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.
Al Jazeera has urged the international community to “condemn and hold responsible the Israeli occupation forces for the deliberate attack and killing of our colleague”.
When mourners carried a coffin containing her body from the St. Louis French Hospital in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on Friday, Israeli troops surrounded the crown and beat them with batons. There were also reports of the use of tranquilizer grenades.
Earlier this week, the White House called for an “immediate and thorough investigation and full accountability” for her murder. “Investigating attacks on independent media and prosecuting those responsible are of the utmost importance,” Ms Psaki said in a statement on Wednesday.
Several other US officials have condemned her murder and Israeli police brutality.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib called the funeral attack “sickening” and “violent racism” and urged the US State Department to condemn the violence.
Earlier this week, several other Democratic members of Congress called for an investigation into her death.
Senator Ben Cardin said in a statement that her murder is an “attack on a journalist who was wearing her press kit”.
“No journalist should be killed while doing his job. I strongly condemn her death and call for an independent and thorough investigation into the incident,” he said.
Israeli troops attack people carrying dead Al Jazeera journalist’s coffin
Sentor Chris Van Hollen called for a “thorough and independent investigation” into her death.
“Veteran American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was just doing her job when she was shot and killed early this morning,” Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement. “Her heartbreaking death should be regarded as an attack on press freedom everywhere. There must be a thorough investigation and full accountability for those responsible.”
US Representative Andre Carson also called on the government to “hold the Israeli government accountable for this and all other acts of unjust violence it commits.”
US Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that “the Israeli military should conduct a thorough and objective investigation” and “be transparent about its findings”.