PCHR: Unjustified Violence – IOF Suppress Thousands of Mourners at Journalist Shireen Abu ‘Akleh’s Funeral in East Jerusalem

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR): Press Release – May 13, 2022

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli occupation forces’ (IOF) violent suppression and attacks on mourners participating in the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu ‘Akleh in East Jerusalem. These attacks resulted in the injury of 33 civilians, including a photojournalist.

IOF’s unjustified attack on mourners at the funeral and violent physical assault on the pallbearers to the point where the coffin almost fell to the ground reflect the occupation’s inhuman conduct as the latter did not suffice with killing Abu Akleh, but also resorted to violence during her funeral procession, which witnessed record participation.


PCHR investigations revealed that, early on Friday, 13 May 2022, IOF deployed heavily in the vicinity of the French Hospital in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, where the body of journalist Shireen Abu ‘Akleh was kept. Abu ‘Akleh was shot dead by IOF’s fire on Wednesday morning in Jenin refugee camp. IOF established dozens of police checkpoints in the neighborhood and nearby areas, in preparation for the transport of her body from the hospital to the Roman Catholic Church in Hebron Gate area in East Jerusalem’s Old City. IOF tried to impose restrictions on the funeral procession by informing Abu ‘Akleh’s family that participation in the funeral procession will be limited to few people, as the victim is laid to rest in Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery near Hebron Gate, and her coffin was to be transported in a private vehicle under the condition that no Palestinian flags be raised nor mention of any national chants.

Hundreds gathered in the French Hospital’s yard raising Palestinian flags and Journalist Abu ‘Akleh’s photos and protesting her murder. At around 13:50, scores of heavily armed Israeli police, along with a skunk truck, mounted police on horseback, and Israeli Intelligence officers surrounded the entire hospital and prevented the gathered civilians, journalists, and patients from entering it. Israeli police also assaulted civilians and journalists at the hospital’s main gate.

As Abu ‘Akleh’s coffin was conducted of the hospital morgue, IOF stopped and attacked the funeral procession, that was scheduled to carry the coffin on foot from the hospital to the church so that all those gathered, and her beloved ones could bid her farewell. When the mourners refused to put down the coffin to be delivered in a vehicle to the church, IOF unjustifiably and violently raided the Hospital yard and building, fired rubber bullets at the mourners and violently assaulted them. IOF forcefully pushed and assaulted the pallbearers with batons, nearly causing the casket to drop to the ground were it not for the steadfastness of the pallbearers.


Minutes later, the casket was put into a private vehicle that was stopped several times on its way out by the Israeli police, who removed Palestinian flags and shattered the vehicle windows. As the vehicle left, the occupation forces shut the hospital gate and denied civilians, media crews, and the victim’s only brother, Anton Abu Akleh, from joining the body. Almost 10 minutes after, Israeli troops began to suddenly retreat from the vicinity of the hospital. Upon the arrival of the coffin holding Abu Akleh’s body to the Roman Catholic Church in Hebron Gate, IOF began to attack civilians to disperse them, confiscate Palestinian flags, tear up pictures of Abu Akleh and signs protesting her killing. At this time, there were altercations between Palestinian civilians and IOF over the presence of Palestinian flags, as Palestinians refused to remove them in spite of IOF persistent attempts.

As the funeral procession moved from the Church towards Zion Cemetery in Hebron Gate, IOF established dozens of police checkpoints to hinder mourners’ participation. IOF also arrested more than a dozen of Palestinians after assaulting them. All the while, an Israeli helicopter was flying at a low altitude nearby. Still, tens of thousands of Palestinians arrived at Zion Cemetery to attend the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh as she was laid to rest.

Palestinian Red Crescent Society crews stated that 33 Palestinians sustained cuts and bruises following IOF attacks on the funeral procession, including photojournalist Ashraf Shwaiki who IOF assaulted in front of the French Hospital in Sheikh Jarrah. The Palestinian Prisoner Club announced that IOF arrested 14 Palestinians during the funeral.


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns these unjustifiable attacks, and emphasizes that this shocking violence, which was preceded by vehement attempts to deny their responsibility for the murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, is another dimension and stark example of the Israeli occupation’s systemic disregard for international law and human rights treaties, all under an official Israeli coverup. These acts are encouraged by the weak international accountability mechanisms, which only asserts the need for effective procedures that ensure accountability, justice, and end the climate of impunity.

PCHR renews its call upon the international community to initiate immediate action to end Israeli occupation crimes; and renews its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Convention, to guarantee Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Full report in Arabic here.

Photo: PCHR

Published by I Can Handle the Truth

I am a journalist, editor, and activist for the human rights for Palestinians across the world. Long Live Palestine!

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