זירת האירוע
The scene of the incident
Photo: AFP
Shireen Abuk Akleh's casket carried by Palestinians

Israel's top Catholic prelate slams police over reporter's funeral attack

Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa says Israeli officers applies 'disproportionate' force while trying to contain the angry crowd at Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral; 'It is a severe violation of international norms and regulations,' he says

Associated Press |
Published: 05.16.22, 13:47
The top Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land on Monday condemned the police beating of mourners carrying the casket of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, accusing the authorities of violating human rights and disrespecting the Catholic Church.
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  • Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa told reporters at St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem that Friday’s incident, broadcast around the world, was a “disproportionate use of force” to the Palestinian flag-waving crowd of thousands proceeding from the hospital to a nearby Catholic church in Jerusalem’s Old City. The attack drew worldwide condemnation and added to the outrage over Abu Akleh’s killing as she covered a shootout in the West Bank.
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    מחאה מחוץ לבית החולים בירושלים בו שמורה גופתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    מחאה מחוץ לבית החולים בירושלים בו שמורה גופתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    Shireen Abuk Akleh's casket carried by Palestinians
    (Photo: AFP)
    The police attack, Pizzaballa told reporters, “is a severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, which must be observed also in a public space.” He spoke as the leaders and clergy of other Christian churches sat nearby.
    There was no immediate Israeli response.
    Israel and the Palestinians are locked in a war of narratives over Abu Akleh’s killing. The reporter, a Palestinian-American, a Catholic, and a 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, was shot Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp. She was wearing a blue vest clearly marked “Press.” Abu Akleh was a household name across the Arab world, known for documenting the hardship of Palestinian life under Israeli rule.
    3 View gallery
    זירת האירוע
    זירת האירוע
    The scene of the incident
    (Photo: AFP)
    Palestinian officials and witnesses, including journalists who were with her, say she was killed by army fire. The military, after initially saying Palestinian gunmen might have been responsible, later backtracked and now says it’s not clear who fired the deadly bullet.
    After an international uproar over the funeral violence, Israeli police launched an investigation into the conduct of the officers who attacked the mourners, causing the pallbearers to nearly drop her coffin
    Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinians, saying the bullet must be analyzed by ballistics experts to reach firm conclusions. Palestinian officials have refused, saying they don’t trust Israel. Human rights groups say Israel has a poor record of investigating wrongdoing by its security forces.
    After earlier saying they would accept an outside partner, the Palestinians said late Sunday that they would handle the investigation alone and deliver results very soon.
    3 View gallery
    מחאה מחוץ לבית החולים בירושלים בו שמורה גופתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    מחאה מחוץ לבית החולים בירושלים בו שמורה גופתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    The hospital nearby the Catholic church in Jerusalem’s Old City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    “We also refused to have an international investigation because we trust our capabilities as a security institution,” Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced. “We will not hand over any of the evidence to anyone because we know that these people are able to falsify the facts.” He stood with Abu Akleh’s brother, Anton, and Al Jazeera’s local bureau chief, Walid Al-Omari.
    Amid the wrangling, some research and human rights groups have launched their own investigations.
    Bellingcat, a Dutch-based international consortium of researchers, published an analysis of video and audio evidence gathered on social media. The material came from both Palestinian and Israeli military sources, and the analysis looked at such factors as timestamps, the locations of the videos, shadows, and forensic audio analysis of gunshots.
    The group found that while gunmen and Israeli soldiers were both in the area, the evidence supported witness accounts that Israeli fire killed Abu Akleh.
    “Based on what we were able to review, the IDF (Israeli soldiers) were in the closest position and had the clearest line of sight to Abu Akleh,” said Giancarlo Fiorella, the lead researcher of the analysis.
    Fiorella acknowledged that the analysis cannot be 100% certain without such evidence as the bullet, weapons used by the army, and GPS locations of Israeli forces. But he said the emergence of additional evidence typically bolsters preliminary conclusions and almost never overturns them.
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