Thousands attend state procession for slain Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

A group of journalists gather to stage a protest in support of Al-Jazeeras television channel rporter Shireen Abu Akleh (Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency)

Yumna Patel

Mondoweiss  /  May 12, 2022

Israeli police intercepted Shireen Abu Akleh’s body following a state funeral procession, and have also raided her home and questioned family members.

Thousands of Palestinians attended a state funeral procession for slain Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday as she was covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

The procession took place in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and was attended by a number of Palestinian Authority officials including President Mahmoud Abbas, along with Abu Akleh’s colleagues from Al Jazeera, family, friends, and thousands of Palestinian mourners.

Abu Akleh’s coffin, draped in a Palestinian flag, was carried by the Palestinian honor guard after making its way from the Istishari hospital to the presidential complex in the city. 

In his eulogy for the veteran journalist, President Abbas described her as “a hero who sacrificed her life in defense of her cause and her people. She was an honest and patriotic voice who conveyed the suffering of the mothers of martyrs and prisoners, the suffering of Jerusalem, the camps, the protests and the incursions into towns and villages.”

He went on to say “We hold the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for the murder, and they will not be able with this crime to hide the truth, and this crime must not go unpunished.”

Abbas declared that the PA had refused calls for a joint investigation with Israel into Abu Akleh’s killing, “because it is they who committed the crime and because we do not trust them,” adding that his government would be taking Abu Akleh’s case to the International Criminal Court .

Abu Akleh, an icon of journalism in Palestine, was shot in the head on Wednesday by Israeli forces as they were raiding the Jenin Refugee Camp, an area where Abu Akleh had been reporting from for decades, since the Second Intifada.

She was wearing a protective helmet and a flak jacket marked with the words PRESS when she, and a group of other journalists came under fire. Abu Akleh’s fellow Al-Jazeera journalist Ali al-Samoudi was shot in the back. 

According to the journalists who witnessed the attack, the group came under fire from a group of Israeli snipers stationed around 150 meters away from them. The journalists, who were all marked as PRESS, said they made their presence known to the soldiers before moving through the area.  

Despite the eyewitness accounts, along with video footage and geographic data collected from the scene that corroborates the journalists’ testimony, Israel has continued to deny responsibility, casting blame on Palestinian gunfire in the area. 

Israeli police intercept Abu Akleh’s body in Jerusalem

Following the state procession in Ramallah, Abu Akleh’s body was transported in a convoy to her hometown of Beit Hanina in occupied East Jerusalem, where she will be buried on Friday. 

Crowds of Palestinians were filmed running after the ambulance carrying Abu Abkleh’s body as it drove to Jerusalem.

According to Palestinian media reports, Israeli police reportedly intercepted the convoy after it passed through the Qalandia military checkpoint that sits between Ramallah and Jerusalem. 

Wafa News Agency said that police detained Palestinian activist Shadi Mansour, and “briefly held” Walid al-Omari, Al-Jazeera’s Bureau chief and Abu Akleh’s longtime colleague. 

“Police inspected the ambulance carrying Abu Akleh’s body and seized her scarf which had traces of her blood and was decorated with the Palestine flag,” before allowing the convoy to proceed, Wafa reported. 

Local press also reported that Israeli police summoned Abu Akleh’s brother to a station in Jerusalem for questioning. 

On Wednesday Israeli police raided Abu Akleh’s family home and removed Palestinian flags that had been placed at the home’s entrance. Police also dispersed a protest in Jerusalem over her killing, with video footage on social media beating and violently detaining protesters. 

Vigils and protests over Abu Akleh’s killing were held in cities across Palestine on Wednesday and Thursday, including in Bethlehem, Jenin, Haifa, and Bir al-Sabe.

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss