The US criticized Friday’s Israeli attacks on mourners and pallbearers during Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral procession in Jerusalem as “deeply disturbing.”
“We regret the intrusion of what should have been a peaceful procession. We’ve urged respect for the funeral procession, the mourners and the family at this sensitive time,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
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As her casket was being carried, hundreds of Palestinians were seen hoisting the Palestinian flag and chanting.
Shortly after, Israeli forces rushed at the mourners, attacking them with batons, including the pallbearers and leading to the coffin dropping.
“This is a day where we should all be marking, including everyone there, the memory of a remarkable journalist who lost her life,” Psaki said during her final briefing as press secretary.
Pressed further as to whether the Biden administration condemned the Israeli violence, she said: “I think when we said they were disturbing, we obviously were not justifying them. But I think I will leave my comments at what I said.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement saying that the US was “deeply troubled to see the images of Israeli police intruding into her funeral procession today.”
Blinken added: “Every family deserves to be able to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner.”
The top US diplomat also called on all sides to avoid actions that could further escalate the already tense situation in the area.
We were deeply troubled by the images of Israeli police intruding into the funeral procession of Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh. Every family deserves to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 13, 2022
Abu Akleh, a reporter for Al Jazeera, was shot and killed this week while reporting on an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank’s Jenin. Palestine and her outlet have accused the Israeli military of killing her.
Video footage showed Abu Akleh, 51, wearing a flak jacket with “Press” clearly visible.
Israel said it was Palestinian gunmen who were responsible for her death before later backtracking and saying an investigation was going to be carried out.
Previous Israeli investigations into killed Palestinian reporters have failed to reach a verdict. But the US has said Israel could carry out a thorough investigation. Palestine has said it will not cooperate with the Israeli investigation and said it would not hand over remnants of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh.
Read more: Violence erupts as Shireen Abu Akleh’s coffin emerges from Jerusalem hospital