Palestinians honour slain journalist, reject joint probe

Mourners react as the body of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh arrives in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on May 12

Thousands of Palestinians on Thursday honored Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at a memorial service in the occupied West Bank, a day after she was shot dead during an Israeli army raid.

Israel and the Palestinians have traded blame over the killing of Palestinian-American Abu Akleh, 51, a veteran of the Qatar-based network’s Arabic service, during clashes in the Jenin refugee camp.

In a sign of Abu Akleh’s stature among Palestinians, she received what was described as a full state memorial at the Ramallah compound of president Mahmud Abbas, attended by foreign diplomats, prominent Arab Israeli politicians, and senior Palestinian leaders.

– ‘Crime’ –

“This crime should not go unpunished,” said Abbas.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had said Wednesday it was “likely” Abu Akleh was killed by stray Palestinian gunfire — but Defense Minister Benny Gantz later conceded that it could have been “the Palestinians who shot her” or fire from “our side”.

Draped in a Palestinian scarf under the late morning sun, Tariq Ahmed, 45, described the death as a “tragedy for all the nation”, comparing his grief to that he felt at the funeral of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

– No joint probe –

Men ran alongside the ambulance as it drove to the checkpoint barrier between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

The European Union has urged an “independent” probe while the United States demanded the killing be “transparently investigated”, calls echoed by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

“We affirmed that our investigation would be completed independently,” Sheikh said.

An initial autopsy and forensic examination were conducted in Nablus in the Israel-occupied West Bank hours after her death, but no final conclusions have been disclosed.

– ‘Sister of all Palestinians’ –

At the family’s Jerusalem home late Wednesday, her brother Antoun said she was “the sister of all Palestinians”, adding that “what happened cannot be silenced.”

Tensions have again risen with a wave of attacks that have killed at least 18 people in Israel since March 22, including an Arab-Israeli police officer and two Ukrainians.

bur-gb/pjm

Originally published as Palestinians honor slain journalist, reject joint probe

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