Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf condemn Israeli police violence at Abu Akleh funeral

Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf condemn Israeli police violence at Abu Akleh funeral

Nicola Sturgeon and Health secretary Humza Yousaf have strongly criticised Israeli security forces who beat mourners carrying the coffin of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh through the streets of Jerusalem. 

The First Minister said scenes of pallbearers being beaten by riot police on Friday were “disgraceful”, while Mr Yousaf branded them  “sickening” and said that anyone with “an iota of humanity” should condemn their actions “in the strongest possible terms.”  

Ms Abu Akleh, 51, was a household name across the Arab world, revered for her coverage of Palestinian life under Israeli rule for the Al Jazeera satellite channel for the last 25 years. 

She was shot dead on Wednesday during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank town of Jenin. 

Ms Abu Akleh

Journalists who were with her, including an Al Jazeera colleague who was shot and wounded, said Israeli forces fired upon them even though they were clearly identifiable as reporters. 

READ MORE: Veteran Al Jazeera reporter killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Anger at Ms Abu Akleh’s killing escalated yesterday when Israeli riot police pushed and beat pallbearers, causing them to briefly drop her casket in a shocking start to her funeral procession.

It turned into what is being called the largest display of Palestinian nationalism in Jerusalem in a generation. 

Israel says it is investigating the incident. It initially suggested she might have been shot by Palestinian militants, without providing evidence, but has since backtracked. 

As footage of the funeral spread out across the internet yesterday, Mr Yousaf Tweeted:  

“The actions of the Israeli security forces attacking mourners who are literally carrying the casket of Shireen Abu Akhleh is sickening. Anyone with a shred of decency, or an iota of humanity should condemn in the strongest possible terms.” 

Nicola Sturgeon also Tweeted her support for a statement by Josep Fontelles, the UN’s the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, which said: “The European Union is appalled by the scenes unfolding on Friday during the funeral procession of the American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in occupied East Jerusalem.

“The EU  condemns the disproportionate use of force and the disrespectful behaviour by the Israeli police against the participants of the mourning procession. 

“Allowing for a peaceful farewell and letting mourners grieve in peace without harassment and humiliation, is the minimal human respect .

“The EU reiterates its call for a thorough and independent investigation that clarifies all the circumstances of Shireen Abu Akleh’s death that brings those responsible for her killing to justice.”

The UN Security Council has strongly condemned the killing of the Palestinian-American journalist, calling for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, and fair and impartial investigation” into her death. 

A press statement was approved by the 15 council members after language was removed emphasising the importance of media freedom and the need for journalists working in dangerous areas to be protected at the insistence of China and Russia, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were private.

The council statement reiterated “that journalists should be protected as civilians” and also condemned the injury to Ms Abu Akleh’s colleague. 


Thousands attended the funeral procession

Within hours of her death, the Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately killing Ms Abu Akleh. 

Israel says a full investigation is needed before any conclusions can be drawn. 

The 51-year-old joined Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language service in 1997 and rose to prominence covering the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising against Israeli rule, in the early 2000s. 

Israel called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with it on security. 

But the Palestinians rejected a joint investigation and demanded an independent international investigation. 

Both sides are likely to cast doubt on any conclusions reached by the other, and there did not appear to be any possibility of a third party carrying out an independent probe. 

Israeli police have defended the actions of their officers, saying that they were targeted by stone-throwing youths. 

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