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Shireen Abu-Aklehs’ pallbearers arrested by Israel

By Annisa Essack

Thousands of mourners packed Jerusalem’s Old City for the burial of Shireen Abu-Akleh, a 51-year-old Al Jazeera reporter. The Palestinian-American was killed during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. Television footage showed pallbearers struggling to stop Abu Akleh’s casket from falling to the ground as baton-wielding police charged toward them, grabbing Palestinian flags.

The foundation of late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the scenes of Israeli police attacking the pallbearers were “chillingly reminiscent” of what happened during the funerals of anti-apartheid activists.

Israel and the Palestinians traded blame after Abu Akleh was shot near the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. She wore a helmet and a bulletproof vest marked ‘Press’.

Rania Zabaneh, a colleague of Shireen Abu-Akleh, spoke to Radio Islam International, saying that the week has been difficult as they dealt with the loss of their colleague, and they are now driven knowing that Shireen needs justice.

Speaking about the pallbearers who carried Abu-Akleh’s coffin, Zabaneh confirmed that one of the pallbearers was arrested and was being charged regarding “his actions during the funeral”, which was the only information that was provided via reports.

Zabaneh spoke of the attack on another funeral, days after Abu-Aklehs’, a Palestinian shot at Al Aqsa, who succumbed to his wounds.

She added that the Palestinian flag seemed to be a trigger for the Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem to attack Palestinians.

She says that they are hopeful that Shireen will receive justice, and they are working toward that. Palestinians launched their investigation into the slaying of Abu-Akleh, whilst the Israelis have rescinded the investigation they initially promised.

The Palestinian investigation will be completed soon and forwarded to the International Criminal Court. She also eluded that Shireen, a US citizen, meant different channels of inquiry and international jurisdiction as Shireen was clearly marked as a journalist. It was believed that she was targeted and killed in cold blood, which constitutes a war crime. There were avenues available to seek justice.

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