Shireen Abu Akleh: Thousands mourn slain journalist as Palestinians demand accountability

Journalists, diplomats, religious leaders and officials, including Arab members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, attended the memorial procession to the residence of the Palestinian Authority president, which saw the coffin draped in the Palestinian flag of Abu Akleh being carried as honor guards played musical instruments. Crowds who had gathered in the streets outside the residence were heard chanting ‘the honest voice never dies’ and ‘we sacrifice our blood and spirit for you, Shireen’.

The memorial was attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who in a speech at the event rejected Israel’s offer for a joint investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh and promised to carry the case before the ICC.

“We have rejected, and continue to reject, the joint investigation with the Israeli occupation authorities because they committed the crime and we do not trust them,” Abbas said, standing in front of Abu Akleh’s coffin . “We will immediately go to the International Criminal Court to track down the killers.”

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh said the government would share the findings of the investigation with the United States, Qatar and the ICC, adding that it would be concluded “soon” and include a report by ‘autopsy.

The Palestinian-American was shot dead on Wednesday while covering Israeli military raids in the West Bank city of Jenin. Akleh producer Ali Al-Samudi was also shot dead and is in stable condition, the Palestinian health ministry said.

After the procession, Abu Akleh’s body was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem, where reporters and friends stood outside, crying as they embraced each other. A crowd of supporters gathered outside the hospital, holding roses and chanting “God rest your soul, Shireen”.

As the ambulance carrying Abu Akleh arrived, dozens of people gathered to help carry his coffin to the hospital, draped in roses and the Palestinian flag.

Mourners also laid flowers outside the door of Abu Akleh’s home in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood.

“Shireen is my daughter, her parents are dead but we are all her relatives,” said 63-year-old Nafisa Khwais, who was sitting near Abu Akleh’s house, “we are all her family.”

“Silencing her will never stop us from standing up and telling our story,” Khwais added.

Al Jazeera accused Israeli security forces of deliberately targeting and killing 51-year-old Abu Akleh, one of the Arab world’s most prominent journalists. His death sparked regional and international outrage and calls for accountability.

The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear. Three eyewitnesses told CNN that the reporters were shot by Israeli troops and that there were no Palestinian militants near the reporters at the time.

On Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid proposed a joint Israeli-Palestinian investigation into the death.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its forces came under heavy fire during the counter-terrorism operation and fought back.

IDF international spokesman Amnon Shefler told CNN on Wednesday evening that Israelis “just don’t know yet” who killed Abu Akhleh, in what appears to be a softening of previous statements by Israeli officials who have said that she was “probably” shot down by crossfire from Palestinian militants.

His employer, Al Jazeera, called his death a “gross murder” by Israeli forces.

Abu Akleh’s funeral will be held at the Bab Al-Khalil Roman Catholic Church on Friday, before she is buried in Jerusalem’s Mount Zion Cemetery next to her parents.

Celine Alkhaldi, Nadeen Ebrahim and Mostafa Salem of CNN in Abu Dhabi contributed to this report.


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