Israel police on Saturday announced they will investigate violence at the funeral the day before for an American journalist who worked for Al Jazeera after reports and videos of the incident showed police hitting people in the crowd of mourners with batons.
In a Twitter thread posted on Saturday, Israeli police sought to put the blame for the violent outbreak between police and mourners on the funeral attendees, claiming “hundreds of rioters tried to sabotage the ceremony and harm the police.”
“As with any operational incident, and certainly an incident in which police officers were exposed to violence by rioters and in which force was subsequently used by the police, the Israel Police will be looking into the events that ensued during the funeral,” Israel Police said.
“…the Israel Police Commissioner, in coordination with the Minister of Public Security, has instructed that an investigation be conducted into the incident. The findings of the investigation will be presented to the Commissioner in the coming days,” it added later.
The developments come as mourners took part in a funeral for Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American, on Friday. Earlier this week in the West Bank town of Jenin, she was killed while reporting on an arrest aid carried out by Israeli officials, according to The Associated Press.
While a group of mourners sought to march to a Catholic Church with the casket, police alleged that people thew stones at authorities and chanted “nationalist incitement,” the news outlet noted.
The casket was dropped briefly as police used batons on those carrying the casket and surrounding it, prompting criticism from U.S. officials and lawmakers.
“We were deeply troubled by the images of Israeli police intruding into the funeral procession of Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh. Every family deserves to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Friday.
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) called the police’s actions “indefensible.”
“We need a full, transparent, and independent investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and these disturbing attacks by Israeli police on mourners. Those responsible for these actions must be held accountable,” she tweeted.