Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images
TEL AVIV, Israel – The Israeli police chief has ordered an investigation into the use of force by officers against Palestinians who gathered at the funeral of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Officers charged at the pallbearers, hitting them with batons and nearly knocking the coffin to the ground on Friday. Police said they were trying to prevent crowds from carrying the coffin and had arranged with Abu Akleh’s family to deliver it to the cemetery in a hearse.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations and the European Union condemned the conduct of Israeli police in Jerusalem during Abu Akleh’s funeral.
In a statement, police said “hundreds of rioters attempted to sabotage” the funeral ceremony and injure officers, but the police commissioner ordered an investigation and findings will be presented in the coming days.
Abu Akleh was killed this week while covering an Israeli arrest operation in a Palestinian refugee camp. There is a dispute over whether Israeli soldiers or Palestinian gunmen shot him.
The 51-year-old was a well-known journalist in the Arabic-speaking world, spending decades covering conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis – including the second Intifada of the early 2000s.
Since his death, Abu Akleh has become a symbol of the Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank. His funeral drew thousands of mourners.