Brother of Slain Palestinian-American Reporter Refutes Israel’s Justification For Funeral Attack
20:35 GMT 16.05.2022 (Updated: 17:26 GMT 15.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Maya LevinIsraeli police confront with mourners as they carry the casket of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in east Jerusalem, Friday, May 13, 2022.
© AP Photo / Maya Levin
Israeli backpedaling over their apparent killing of widely-beloved Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh—and their assault on her funeral—has led to massive international condemnation.
Days after Israeli security forces drew international outcry for tear gassing and beating the pallbearers carrying the body of widely-beloved Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, her brother, Anton Abu Akleh, slammed Israel’s official justification for the attack as “illogical and untrue.”
In an interview with the Times of Israel, Abu Akleh also condemned the “extreme, vicious and brutal force” used by Israeli forces at his sister’s funeral Friday, when horrifying footage of heavily-armed Israeli police assaulting unarmed mourners went viral across the globe.
#Israel Jerusalem Shireen Abu Akleh funeral Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians pic.twitter.com/JXtWQmApA7— NiCoLeEliSei (@NiCoLeEliSei1) May 13, 2022
Israeli police subsequently claimed they planned and coordinated the funeral procession with Abu Akleh’s family and insisted that “about 300 rioters” had “prevented the family members from loading the coffin onto the hearse.”
Describing the funeral procession as a “mob,” they said Friday night that mourners “threatened the driver of the hearse and then proceeded to carry the coffin on an unplanned procession… against the wishes of the Abu Akleh family and the security coordination.”
But Abu Akleh dismissed these claims in no uncertain terms Sunday:
“Everyone who was there was there to mourn Shireen. What’s this mob they’re talking about? And even if there were one or two, how many police do you need to deal with it? The whole story here is illogical and untrue.”
As for the “coordination” Israel claims to have undertaken with the family, Abu Akleh said that too was false.
“There was no agreement. I told them our arrangements and that was it,” explained Abu Akleh, who says the night before the funeral he was required to go to an Israeli police station, where officers demanded that attendees not repeat Palestinian chants or wave Palestinian flags–a crime under Israeli law.
“I told them that I could not control such a funeral,” Abu Akleh said. “This is a mass funeral for all Palestine.”
While Israeli culpability in the killing of widely-beloved Shireen Abu Akleh hasn’t yet been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, a number of groups investigating the matter say it’s looking increasingly likely the IDF is to blame.
Israeli forces pulling Palestinian flags off Shireen Abu Akleh's hearse. pic.twitter.com/8qTX9uCPV1— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) May 13, 2022
Across the globe, condemnation of Israeli conduct has been fierce. US President Joe Biden’s Spokeswoman Jen Psaki declared images of Akleh’s funeral to be “very disturbing,” and the European Union issued a statement saying it was “deeply shocked… such disproportionate behavior only fuels further tensions.”
The representative of the Vatican in Jerusalem said the incident showed Israel is "brutally violating" a longstanding agreement to uphold religious freedom for Christians.
After initially denying it was responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, Israel later conceded it was “possible” she was killed by Israeli occupation forces, but claimed that her death would have been the result of “errant” fire if so. Their offer to conduct a ‘joint investigation' into the matter was quickly rejected by the Palestinian Authority.
As Anton Abu Akleh explained, “We support the involvement of any party in the investigation — except for the Israelis. If you’re accused of a crime, it makes no sense that you would investigate it.”