Israeli forces storm Jerusalem hospital as coffin of slain journalist emerges | Israel


Israeli forces have stormed the grounds of a Jerusalem hospital as the coffin containing the body of a Palestinian American journalist shot dead during an Israeli army operation emerged.

Police said on Friday they acted before the burial due to mourners “disrupting public order”.

TV images showed the Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aqleh’s coffin nearly falling to the ground as police grabbed Palestinian flags from the crowd around the procession outside St Joseph’s hospital in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Israel forbids public displays of Palestinian flags and often prevents individuals from hoisting them at rallies and protests in the city.

A senior Palestinian figure, Hanan Ashrawi, tweeted that “savage Israeli ‘special forces’ viciously attack the funeral procession bearing the coffin” of Abu Aqleh as it left St Joseph’s hospital.

“The inhumanity [of] Israel is on full display,” said the former Palestine Liberation Organisation official.

In a statement, police said they had held talks with Abu Aqleh’s family in order to “enable a respectable funeral. Unfortunately, under the auspices of the funeral and taking cynical advantage of it, hundreds of people began disrupting public order before [the funeral] even began.

“As the coffin was about to exit the hospital, stones began to be thrown at officers from the hospital’s plaza, and the officers were forced to use riot dispersal means.”

Police released a video in which an officer outside the hospital grounds addresses the crowd. “If you don’t stop these chants and [Palestinian] nationalistic songs we will have to disperse you using force and we won’t let the funeral take place,” the officer says in the video.

Abu Aqleh’s coffin left the hospital grounds by vehicle and arrived at a Jerusalem church for her funeral. The journalist was killed on Wednesday while covering clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

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