Oded Shalom
Oded Shalom
באדיבות הוצאת ידיעות ספרים
Clashes during the funeral of slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem

Israeli police's conduct during slain reporter's funeral is a national disgrace

Opinion: Instead of demonstrating discretion and patience, the police acted without thinking during the globally broadcasted funeral of Sheerin Abu Akleh, which both angered Washington and served to amplify the sense of national guilt

Oded Shalom |
Published: 05.20.22, 23:38
The pictures from the funeral procession of Al-Jazeera journalist Sheerin Abu Akleh - who was killed last week during a shootout between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin - were nothing short of horrendous.
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  • It was clear the images from the funeral - during which security forces clashed with Palestinian protesters and mourners in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood where the procession took place - would be broadcasted and reviewed worldwide.
    5 View gallery
    כוחות משטרה בזמן הלוויתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    כוחות משטרה בזמן הלוויתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    Clashes during the funeral of slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem
    Security forces should have prepared accordingly to allow the funeral to pass quietly, quickly and without a hitch, and use violence means only as the very last resort. Not only because of the media coverage, but mainly because of the circumstances surrounding the reporter's death.
    It doesn't matter who shot the bullet that killed the journalist, in her death Abu Akleh was elevated to nothing less than a Palestinian symbol.
    The IDF can continue to investigate the incident in Jenin, to try and understand where each Israeli fighter stood and which one of them fired in which direction. These details hold little significance, however, as far as the world is concerned.
    5 View gallery
    כוחות משטרה בזמן הלוויתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    כוחות משטרה בזמן הלוויתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    Clashes during the funeral of slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem
    Israel sees the raid in Jenin, where the reporter was killed, and any other operation in the volatile area of the Palestinian territories as an act of self-defense. But the world does not. International eyes will always see Israel as the aggressor. Blame will always fall on us.
    Israel’s fourth Prime Minister Golda Meir once said that Israel cannot forgive the Arabs for forcing us to kill their children. It seems Abu Akleh’s death conjures the same feeling of national guilt.
    Israel should have let the story of Abu Akleh’s death simply dissipate. Investigate, express grief and let her burial commence without making a fuss out of some Palestinian flags being waved there.
    5 View gallery
    שירין אבו עאקלה אל ג'זירה
    שירין אבו עאקלה אל ג'זירה
    Shireen Abu Akleh
    Instead, the Jerusalem police opted to force itself into East Jerusalem, and violently confront anyone who dared to wave the Palestinian flag or scream anti-Israel chants.
    As if waving a Palestinian flag during a two-hour funeral procession takes away from the Israeli sovereignty in the capital.
    It was only after the cops started chasing the flag bearers, that curses and stones started flying through the air. From the videos of the policemen beating everyone who happens to be in their way, one might think that the flags posed nothing less than an existential threat to the country.
    5 View gallery
    כוחות משטרה בזמן הלוויתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    כוחות משטרה בזמן הלוויתה של שירין אבו עאקלה
    Clashes during the funeral of slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem
    It is not by chance that the Americans demanded an investigation into the conduct of the police during the funeral. Abu Akleh was not only a journalist who was killed despite very clearly wearing a vest marking her as press, but also a Palestinian with an American citizenship.
    And that is probably why on Saturday, a police spokeswoman announced that the commissioner had ordered an investigation into the events of the funeral procession.
    This is not the first time the Jerusalem District Police has caused a similar furor with its behavior. Last year, a series of unfortunate decisions on the district police’s part led to riots near the Damascus Gate - which eventually culminated in an 11-day conflict with Hamas and racially motivated riots that broke out in Israel’s mixed cities.
    5 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
    Shireen Abu Akleh's coffin during her funeral procession in Jerusalem
    (Photo: AP)
    This year, at the start of the holy month of Ramadan, it looked as though the Jerusalem police had learned their lessons. Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman demonstrated discretion and patience. The clashes on the Temple Mount were under control. Hamas and other extremists wanted the tensions and violence to overflow beyond the holy compound, but the police did not play into their hands and conducted themselves responsibly and professionally.
    The photos from the funeral - which among other things showed officers hitting the coffin-bearers with batons - are the complete opposite of patience and discretion.
    They showed the world a shocking display of unbridled brutality and violence. They showed the madness and moral failure of Israel’s police force.

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