‘We regret the intrusion of what should have been a peaceful procession’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the scenes from a funeral procession in Jerusalem for a Palestinian-American journalist who was fatally shot during an Israeli raid “deeply disturbing”, as widely shared footage shows Israeli officers beating pallbearers carrying the coffin containing the body of Shireen Abu Akleh.
“We have all seen those images. They’re obviously deeply disturbing. This is a day where we should all be marking, including everyone there, the memory of a remarkable journalist who lost her life,” Ms Psaki said from the White House on Friday 13 May.
“With the disturbing footage from the funeral procession today in Jerusalem, we regret the intrusion of what should have been a peaceful procession,” she said. “We urge respect for the funeral procession, the mourner and the family at this sensitive time.”
She added that Joe Biden’s administration remains “in close with with Israeli and Palestinian authorities.”
On 11 May, the longtime Al Jazeera journalist was shot dead by Israeli forces as she covered Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, according to witnesses and the Palestinian health ministry.
Al Jazeera has urged the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague”.
As mourners carried a casket containing her body from the St Louis French Hospital in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood on Friday, Israeli forces surrounded the crowndand beat them with batons. There were also reports of stun grenades being used.
Following remarks in the White House Rose Garden on public safety, President Biden said “I don’t know all the details, but I know it has to be investigated.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “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.”
Earlier this week, the White House called for an “immediate and thorough investigation and full accountability” for her killing. “Investigating attacks on independent media and prosecuting those responsible are of paramount importance,” Ms Psaki said in a statement on Wednesday.
Several other US officials have condemned her killing and Israeli police violence.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib called the funeral attack “sickening” and “violent racism” and urged the US Department of State to condemn the violence.
Earlier this week, several other Democratic members of Congress called for an investigation into her death.
Senator Ben Cardin said in a statement that her killing marks an “attack on a journalist who was wearing her press gear”.
“No journalist should be killed while simply doing their job. I strongly condemn her death and call for an independent and thorough investigation into the incident,” he said.
Sentor Chris Van Hollen called for a “thorough and independent investigation” into her death.
“Veteran American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was simply doing her job when she was shot and killed early this morning,” Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement. “Her heartbreaking death should be considered an attack on freedom of the press everywhere. There must be a thorough investigation and full accountability for those responsible.”
US Rep Andre Carson also called on the government to “hold the Israeli government accountable for this and all other acts of unjust violence it commits”.
US Rep Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said that “the Israeli military must conduct a thorough and objective investigation” and “be transparent about its findings,.”