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Shireen Abu Akleh: Use of force 'necessary' in funeral crackdown, Israeli probe finds

A senior officer said overall 'the police acted well' in the violent assault last month, Israeli media reports
Mourners carrying the casket of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of a hospital, before being transported to a church and then her resting place, in Jerusalem, on May 13. (AFP)
Mourners are attacked by Israel forces as they carry the casket of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of a hospital in Jerusalem on 13 May (AFP)

Israeli forces' crackdown on Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral amounts to police misconduct but no commanders will be disciplined, an Israeli police investigation concluded on Wednesday, according to Haaretz

The investigation further stated that although the use of force was necessary, the police could have avoided using batons.

One senior police officer told the Israeli daily that the "unpleasant" images that emerged on the day "could have been different, but overall the police acted well in a complex and violent incident".

The findings of the probe were presented to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who initially ordered the investigation in May. 

However, the police chief has refused to release the report’s findings to the public.  

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Last month, Israeli forces fired stun grenades and assaulted mourners carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin outside a hospital in occupied East Jerusalem ahead of her funeral service and burial in the Old City, causing her coffin to almost fall to the ground. 

Police said Abu Akleh’s coffin was initially supposed to be carried by vehicle through the procession, in agreement with the family, but was carried by pallbearers on foot instead, which prompted the crackdown, police said. 

According to Haaretz, the police intervened after the hearse driver purportedly asked the police for help.

In the end, Palestinian sources said that 14 people were detained and a further 33 wounded. 

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said last month that the police acted "in order to allow the funeral procession of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to take place properly, in coordination with her family and out of a clear understanding of the sensitivity and complexity of the event”.

“Unfortunately, during the funeral, serious violence broke out on the part of the participants that caused the situation to deteriorate,” he said.

Givara al-Budeiri, a long-time colleague and close friend of Abu Akleh, described the police attack on mourners on the day outside the hospital live on air as it was happening. 

“Occupation forces are storming the hospital. They are now firing bullets. We are talking about a hospital here, not an area of conflict,” she said, distressed and holding back tears.

“Even in her death, Shireen has exposed the actions of occupation forces,” another Al Jazeera journalist said.