• A group of about 300 Muslims took over the funeral ceremony of Abu Akleh and changed it into a funeral ceremony in Islamic style. | Photo: Flash90

New facts about the death and funeral of Al Jazeera journalist

Yochanan Visser - 18 May 2022

The death of Shireen Abu Akleh, the journalist for Al Jazeera, is keeping a lot of people busy. The background and facts of her death and funeral are different from what the (international) media portray.

Last Wednesday, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed during an action by the Israeli army (IDF) in the town of Jenin in northern Samaria. Violent riots broke out on Friday during the funeral ceremony in Jerusalem.

Palestinian propaganda
The Palestinian narrative was that the police in Jerusalem used unnecessary force against “the mourning masses”. Images of this part of the funeral ceremony spread around the world, initially through social media. The international media immediately adopted the Palestinian narrative, which in turn led to a series of condemnations by many governments, including the United States. The European Union also condemned the ‘police brutality’ at Abu Akleh’s funeral.

That these condemnations were based solely on statements by Palestinian spokespersons and videos uploaded on social media by pro-Palestinian activists escaped many. The same happened after Abu Akleh was shot dead in Jenin. Israel was held directly responsible for the journalist’s death and was even accused of murder. Mahmud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, was at the forefront of the unfounded campaign against the IDF and used Abu Akleh’s death to boost his prestige among the Palestinian people.

Abbas threatened to go to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to file charges against the “criminals” (IDF). The PA leader, however, refused to accede to an Israeli request for an impartial international forensic investigation into the shooting death of Abu Akleh.

New revelations about Abu Akleh’s death
The PA later revealed that the bullet that hit the journalist in the head was in its possession, and also claimed that this was a bullet from an M-16 sniper rifle allegedly used by the IDF. The PA said it was a 5.6 millimetre bullet. However, Israeli army snipers were at a distance of 800 metres from the Al Jazeera journalist. In that case, a rifle with 7.62 millimetre bullets is used by the IDF.

Palestinian terrorists are also in possession of stolen IDF M-16 rifles, as evidenced by an IDF action during the night of Monday to Tuesday, when Israeli soldiers confiscated an M-16 rifle during a raid in the town of Ras Karkar.

Then there was a video made right after Abu Akleh was shot. In that video, one could hear a Palestinian gunman shouting that he had just shot an “Israeli soldier”. However, there were no injuries or deaths on the IDF side. An analysis of this video provided preliminary evidence that Abu Akleh was probably shot by three Palestinian gunmen, and that the three were hiding near the spot where she died.

We will probably never know the true cause of this tragic incident because the PA does not allow an independent investigation.

A hijacked funeral
Then there is the international outcry over the police intervention in the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh. The narrative here is that the police attacked mourning Arabs and used unnecessarily brutal force.

The outrage was based on a 30-second video clip that circulated on social media before the footage was taken up by international media. Most media reports focused on the police action which, without the context in which it took place, did indeed give the impression of the use of unnecessary force.

However, there is much more to this incident than meets the eye.

First, Abu Akleh was a Christian woman and she was buried in a Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Abu Akleh’s parents once lived in Bethlehem. The agreement that the Abu Akleh family made with the police was that the funeral would take place in the Christian tradition and that her coffin would therefore be transported to the cemetery in a hearse.

However, a group of about 300 Muslims took over the funeral ceremony completely and changed it into a funeral ceremony in Islamic style. Thus it happened that the crowd of Muslims prevented the coffin from being transported in the hearse. They also threatened the driver and took the coffin on their shoulders. After this they shouted “Allah Hoe Akhbar” and swore never to kneel before anyone but Allah and to “avenge the blood” of the Al Jazeera “martyr”.

Shireen’s brother, as well as the EU ambassador present, called on the Arab Muslims to return the coffin to the hearse, but in vain. When the rioters also draped Palestinian flags over the coffin and started bombarding the police with stones and bottles, they intervened and attacked the group of Muslims. The intention of the police was to let the funeral proceed as planned and to remove the group of Muslims.

However, the Muslims were determined to continue with the hijacking of Abu Akleh’s funeral and used violence to dissuade the police from restoring order.

Fatah responsible for violence
On Tuesday afternoon, it was further revealed that Fatah terrorists who had been in Israeli prisons were responsible for the ‘hijacking’ of Abu Akleh’s funeral. Those who were “honoured” to hijack Shireen’s coffin and carry it on their shoulders to a nearby church were all members of Fatah. Fatah is the Palestinian party that forms the Palestinian Authority. Some of them were forbidden to go to the Old City of Jerusalem and were searched by the Israeli police. The group was in constant contact with the Muqata, the PA headquarters in Ramallah, and arranged for thousands of Muslims to attend the funeral.

The international outcry was thus, as I said, based on a 30-second video clip. This while the run-up to the funeral already showed that chaos was on the way. The police had asked Abu Akleh’s family to limit the number of people present for fear of the riots that did indeed break out later. The police had also announced that they would not allow the funeral to turn into a demonstration for the Palestinian national cause. However, the police were apparently unaware of the Fatah plot and were surprised by the group of 300 Muslims.

After the funeral, the Palestinian police arrested Milad Musa, a Hamas supporter from the Bir Zeit suburb near Jerusalem. Musa was also present at the funeral and had shouted slogans against the Palestinian Authority, according to Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh.


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