Laid to Unrest
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Israeli police and Palestinian mourners clashed over the weekend during the funeral of a prominent Palestinian-American journalist, a death that has already inspired international condemnation and calls for an investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The clashes broke out over the killing of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, who died last week during an Israeli military raid on the West Bank. Her death became the latest flashpoint in escalating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
On Friday, Abu Akleh’s casket was scheduled to be transported in a vehicle to a Catholic Church in Jerusalem. Israeli authorities said that Abu Akleh’s family and police had agreed beforehand on the procession and route.
But as her body was being loaded into the hearse, a large group of Palestinian mourners tried to stop the vehicle and began carrying her coffin on their shoulders. Israeli riot police intervened, which resulted in a violent melee that almost caused Abu Akleh’s coffin to fall to the ground.
Once the violence subsided, the casket was then placed in the hearse and funerary processions continued, the Washington Post noted.
Israeli officials said the mourners were planning to “carry the coffin on an unplanned procession,” adding that they began an investigation into the clashes.
Still, the killing and resulting clashes have sparked a diplomatic crisis with the United States, which criticized Israeli police tactics and called for an investigation. The United Nations also condemned the death of the journalist and urged a probe.
Palestinian officials have blamed Israel, saying the journalist was killed by Israeli gunfire. Israel initially implicated Palestinian militants but later said that it wasn’t possible to determine who exactly shot Abu Akleh.
Meanwhile, Palestinian authorities have refused demands by Israel to share ballistic and forensic evidence, saying Israeli officials could not be trusted to conduct an impartial investigation.
At the same time, international diplomats are attempting to negotiate a joint or shared probe, which might include specialists from a neutral third country.