The brother of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh Monday blasted the violent intervention by Israeli police into her funeral as “unacceptable and unjustifiable.”
“They could have easily blocked the road if they didn’t want to see the funeral leave the hospital but the attack was intentional and brutal,” Tony Abu Akleh told CNN.
Speaking at St. Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem, where Friday’s funeral procession began, he said he had spoken to Israeli police before the event.
“The police called me and asked me to go to the police station and they wanted to know the route of the procession and the arrangements taken for the funeral. They asked us not to have any Palestinian flags risen, any slogans or chanting. They didn’t want to hear that,” Abu Akleh said.
“And they wanted to know the number of participating in the funeral procession. I told them I can’t give you any promises, I don’t have the numbers and I can’t control the crowd. This funeral is a national funeral for everyone to participate in. And that is what we saw,” he added.
The hospital condemned the “violent intrusion of the Israeli Police” in a statement on Monday.
St. Joseph Hospital called the events a “severe violation of international norms and regulations.”
“We, the Bishops and the faithful of the Christian Churches in the Holy Land, hereby condemn the violent intrusion of the Israeli Police into a funeral procession of the slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as it was going from St. Joseph Hospital to the Greek-Melkite Cathedral Church,” the statement said.
“Israeli Police’s invasion and disproportionate use of force, attacking mourners, striking them with batons, using smoke grenades, shooting rubber bullets, frightening the hospital’s patients is a severe violation of international norms and regulations,” the statement added.
“The police assaulted the holiness of the site and the campus of the hospital and the funeral without consideration, knowing that the St. Joseph Hospital is under the auspices of the Vatican and protected by the French government,” it added.
In security camera footage shared by the hospital on Monday, more than a dozen police officers are seen pouring into the hospital building with batons drawn and moving aggressively through corridors. CNN has reached out to Israel Police for a response to the St. Joseph Hospital allegations.
Israeli Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev told CNN on Saturday the police “acted to allow the funeral procession for journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to proceed in an orderly fashion, in coordination with her family and from a clear understanding of sensitivity and complexity of the event.
He added that “during the course of the funeral, severe violent events unfolded on the part of those participating that worsened the situation on the ground.”
Israeli authorities have said they will investigate the incident, with the police tweeting: “Israel Police supports its police officers, but as a professional organization that seeks to learn and improve, it will also draw lessons from the incident.”
Abu Akleh, 51, was shot and killed in Jenin on Wednesday. Palestinian and Israeli authorities are separately investigating the killing. Al Jazeera has accused Israel of intentionally killing the veteran journalist.