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

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

Journalists, diplomats, religious leaders and officials, including Arab members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, took part in the memorial procession at the Palestinian Authority President’s residence, where Abu Akleh’s coffin bearing the Palestinian flag was carried in while honor guards played musical instruments. Crowds gathered on the streets outside the residence could be heard chanting “the honest voice never dies” and “we sacrifice our blood and spirit for you Shireen”.

The commemoration 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 take the case to the ICC.

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

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh said the government will share the findings of the investigation with the United States, Qatar and the ICC, adding that it will be completed “soon” and will include an autopsy report.

The Palestinian was shot dead on Wednesday while covering Israeli military strikes in the West Bank city of Jenin. Akleh’s producer Ali Al-Samudi was also shot 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 journalists and friends stood outside, hugging and crying. A crowd of supporters gathered in front of the hospital, holding roses and chanting “God rest your soul Shireen”.

When the ambulance pulled in carrying Abu Akleh, dozens gathered to help carry her coffin, decorated with roses and the Palestinian flag, to the hospital.

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

“Shireen is my daughter, her parents died but we are all her parents,” said 63-year-old Nafisa Khwais, sitting next to Abu Akleh’s house, “we are all her family.”

“Silencing them will never stop us from resisting and telling our story,” Khwais added.

Al Jazeera has accused Israeli security forces of targeting and killing Abu Akleh, 51, one of the Arab world’s most prominent journalists. Her death was met with regional and international outrage and calls for accountability.

The circumstances of her death are unclear. Three eyewitnesses told CNN that the journalists were shot dead by Israeli forces and that there were no Palestinian militants near the journalists at the time.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday proposed a joint Israeli-Palestinian inquiry into the death.

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

IDF international spokesman Amnon Shefler told CNN late Wednesday that the Israelis “just don’t know yet” who killed Abu Akhleh, appearing to weaken earlier statements by Israeli officials who said they “probably.” ‘ was shot dead in a crossfire by Palestinian militants.

Her employer, Al Jazeera, called her death “a blatant murder” by Israeli forces.

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

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

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