Israel's Health Ministry to probe violence at Al Jazeera journalist's funeral

Police clashed with mourners as Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral procession left a Palestinian-run hospital, with police striking pallbearers with batons


Israel's Health Ministry has ordered a review into the policing at an East Jerusalem hospital as the funeral procession of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was starting.

Earlier this month, clashes broke out between police and mourners outside Palestinian-run St Joseph's hospital, with officers seen striking the pallbearers with batons, nearly causing the coffin to fall to the ground.

Israeli Police say that they were forced to intervene after rocks were thrown at officers, and also claim that some Palestinians damaged the funeral procession car, "even trying to prevent it from driving once the coffin was inside".

The incident prompted global outrage and widespread criticism, with a statement released by the heads of Jerusalem's Christian community criticising police actions.

Now, Health Ministry Director-General Dr Nachman Ash has asked East Jerusalem hospitals to compile reports on what took place at the hospital, as well as police conduct. However, the director of St Joseph's hospital said that he had not yet had any contact from the ministry, Haaretz reports.

St Joesph's is located in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, and it is one of two large Palestinian hospitals in the city. It cares for both Jewish and Palestinian patients, and the maternity ward in particular is said to be popular with Jewish women.

Abu Akleh was killed earlier this month in the West Bank city of Jenin. The Palestinian authorities have accused Israel of deliberating targeting her for assassination, a claim Israel strongly denies.

Palestinian leadership refused Israel's request for a joint investigation and has instead sent findings to the International Criminal Court.

The Israel Defence Forces said that its own interim investigation could not determine whether she was killed by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire, and early this week, the IDF’s Military Advocate-General, Brig.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said the IDF was “making every effort” to thoroughly investigate the journalist's death.

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