Israeli police have attacked mourners at the funeral of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, whose killing in the occupied West Bank has caused a surge of anger.
The journalist’s coffin almost fell as police, some using batons, waded into a crowd of Palestinians gathered around it.
Police said they acted after being pelted with stones.
Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in disputed circumstances on May 11, with Israel and Palestinians trading blame. The killing has been widely condemned.
Footage showed a standoff between police and Palestinians gathered around the coffin in the hospital compound, before officers push the crowd back, with some beating and kicking mourners. Police said officers “were forced to use riot dispersal means”.
A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply disturbed” by the confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians and the behavior of some police.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki also said the images of police hitting mourners were disturbing.
“We regret the intrusion into what should have been a peaceful procession,” she said.
The Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera claim Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead by Israeli forces, while Israel said it was not yet possible to determine what happened and that she could have been killed by Palestinian gunfire.
An Israeli military interim report on May 12 said the fatal shot could have come from “massive fire from Palestinian gunmen”, or possibly from “a few bullets” fired by a soldier “at a terrorist who was firing at his vehicle”.
Shireen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian American, was a veteran correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic news channel and had reported on the Israel-Palestinian conflict for two decades.
The journalist was given the rarity of a funeral at the compound of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on May 12, where her coffin was brought draped in the Palestinian flag. President Abbas paid tribute to her, describing her as a “martyr of the free word” who “sacrificed her life” to defend the Palestinian cause.
He said Israel was “fully responsible for her killing” and that he would refer the case to the International Criminal Court, which investigates potential war crimes.
Israeli PM Naftali Bennett has accused President Abbas of “throwing blame at Israel without any basis”.
Shireen Abu Akleh was in the Jenin refugee camp early on May 11 to report on the Israeli raid. The Israeli military said the operation was to apprehend “terrorist suspects”.
It said: “Tens of Palestinian gunmen fired at and hurled explosive devices toward the soldiers. The soldiers responded with fire toward the gunmen and hits were identified.”
Another Palestinian journalist, Al Jazeera producer Ali Samoudi, was shot and wounded during the violence.
Jerusalem attacks have continued only hours after Israeli forces launched a major security operation in Arab areas of the city.
On October 14, Israeli police blocked entrances to Jabal Mukaber, a district that was home to three men accused of killing three Israelis on October 13.
Later, police said they shot dead a Palestinian who had stabbed an Israeli woman at Jerusalem’s main bus station.
Another Palestinian tried to stab a police officer near the walled Old City.
The Palestinian, too, was shot dead by police, they added.
Since the beginning of October, seven Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in shooting and stabbing attacks, the Israeli authorities say.
At least 30 Palestinians have also been killed, including assailants, and hundreds have been injured, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Speaking for the first time since the upsurge in violence began, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israeli actions were “threatening to spark a religious conflict that would burn everything”.
Mahmoud Abbas also accused Israel of carrying out “executions of our children in cold blood”, highlighting the case of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot by Israeli police after he and a 15-year-old stabbed two Israelis on October 12.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the boy was alive in hospital, and described the Palestinian leader’s comments as “lies and incitement”.
Benjamin Netanyahu said on October 13 the new security measures were aimed at “those who try murder and with all those who assist them”.
On the same day Israel’s security cabinet authorized police to close or surround “centers of friction and incitement” in Jerusalem.
It also announced that the homes of Palestinians who attacked Israelis would be demolished within days and that their families’ right to live in Jerusalem would be taken away.
On October 14, Israeli police said checkpoints were set up at “the exits of Palestinian villages and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem”.
Hundreds of soldiers were also deployed.
Human Rights Watch warned that locking down parts of East Jerusalem would “infringe upon the freedom of movement of all Palestinian residents rather than being a narrowly tailored response to a specific concern”.
On October 14, Israeli police and Palestinians clashed in the West Bank city of Bethlehem after the funeral of a Palestinian man killed in violence the previous day.
Clashes were also reported along the Israeli border with Gaza.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) are liable for six attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004, a New York court has ruled.
Six attacks in and around Jerusalem killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more during the second Palestinian intifada more than 10 years ago.
The jury awarded victims of the attacks more than $218 million.
The Palestinian groups expressed dismay at the court’s decision and vowed they would appeal.
As some of the victims were American citizens, the lawsuit was filed in a US court.
After deliberating for a day, jurors ruled in favor of 10 American families who were seeking damages related to the six attacks.
The Israeli government has denied any official involvement in the lawsuit.
A joint statement by the PLO and the PNA described the charges as “baseless” and said they were disappointed by the ruling.
The victims’ families allege that internal documents show the attacks were approved by the Palestinian authorities.
“Those involved in the attacks still receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority and still get promoted in rank while in jail,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel-based Shurat HaDin Law Center, a lawyer who is representing the victims’ families.
But defense lawyer Mark Rochon told jurors that the PA and PLO did not have knowledge of the attacks before they took place.
He said the organizations could not be held liable for the actions of suicide bombers and gunmen, whom he argued acted alone.
The victims had requested more than $350 million. The US Anti-Terrorism Act could yet allow for the fine to be tripled.
Israel has frozen the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians following their bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli officials say.
They said $127 million collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority last month would be held back.
The Palestinians submitted documents to join the ICC on January 2 in a move opposed by both Israel and the US.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli measure, calling it a “new war crime”.
“Israel is once again responding to our legal steps with further illegal collective punishments,” Saeb Erekat said.
Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians, and transfers about $100 million per month, accounting for two-thirds of the authority’s budget.
It is not the first time Israel has halted the monthly transfers. It imposed a similar sanction in April 2014 after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join a series of international treaties and conventions.
Joining the ICC could see Palestinians pursue Israel on war-crime charges.
An unnamed Israeli official who announced the new freeze said Israel would defend itself against any Palestinian claims in the “international arena”.
He told Haaretz newspaper that “when it comes to war crimes, we have quite a bit of ammunition”.
Earlier this week Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: “It is the Palestinian Authority – which is in a unity government with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization that, like ISIS [Islamic State], perpetrates war crimes – that needs to be concerned about the [ICC].”
On December 31, Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.
Under the terms of the statute, it will take about 60 days for the Palestinians to join the ICC after they file the documents.
Neither Israel nor the US is a member of the ICC.
The Palestinians’ chances of joining were improved in 2012 after the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade their status to that of a “non-member observer state”.
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has previously said the upgrade means Palestine now qualifies to join the Rome Statute.
Based in The Hague, the ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute came into force.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has returned to a hero’s welcome in the West Bank after his successful move to upgrade the Palestinians’ UN status.
“Now we have a state,” Mahmoud Abbas told cheering supporters in Ramallah.
“Palestine has accomplished a historic achievement.”
On Thursday the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize the Palestinians as an observer state.
In response Israel halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The decision, announced on Sunday by the Israeli finance ministry, means 460 million shekels ($120 million) will be withheld in December.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs in the West Bank, is heavily dependant on tax revenues Israel collects on its behalf.
A ministry spokesman said the money would instead be used to offset the PA’s debts, which include millions owed to Israel’s electricity company.
The Israeli decision was announced as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas returned to the West Bank from the UN in New York.
He told thousands of flag-waving supporters in Ramallah that the vote to upgrade the Palestinians’ status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” had shown the international community stood behind the Palestinian people.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has returned to a hero’s welcome in the West Bank after his successful move to upgrade the Palestinians’ UN status
“The march was a long one, and the pressures were enormous,” Mahmoud Abbas added.
“But we stood fast and we prevailed, because we are the voice of these people.”
Mahmoud Abbas also called for reconciliation between Palestinians – a reference to the split between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.
On Friday Israel announced it would move ahead with building thousands of new homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in another apparent response to the UN vote.
At a meeting on Sunday, Israel’s cabinet formally rejected the UN’s decision.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the campaign for Palestinian statehood spearheaded by President Mahmoud Abbas “a gross violation of the agreements signed with the state of Israel”, a reference to peace accords signed in the 1990s.
He said that only negotiations with Israel could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
France has confirmed its intentions to vote for Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations later this week.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France had long backed Palestinian ambitions for statehood and would vote yes “out of a concern for coherency”.
The Palestinians are asking the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status from permanent observer to a “non-member observer state”.
The vote is due to take place later this week.
“This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes,” Laurent Fabius told the lower house of parliament.
But he cautioned: “It’s only with negotiations between the two sides that we demand immediately, without any preconditions, that a Palestinian state can become a reality.”
Backing international recognition of a Palestinian state was a campaign pledge made by Francois Hollande before he became France’s president earlier this year.
France – a permanent member of the UN Security Council – is the first major European country to come out in favor of the move.
Germany is expected to vote against, while the UK’s ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said on Tuesday that London remained undecided.
France has confirmed its intentions to vote for Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations later this week
An upgrade in status would allow the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates and improve their chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court (ICC), although the process would be neither automatic nor guaranteed.
If they are allowed to sign the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the Palestinians hope to take legal action in the court to challenge Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
The bid follows an attempt in 2011 by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), to join the UN as a full member state, which failed because of a lack of support in the Security Council.
Observers say the latest Palestinian application is likely win approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly, as it needs to only a simple majority to pass. According to the PLO, more than 130 countries already grant the Palestinians the rank of a sovereign state.
But Israel and the United States are concerned that the move is an attempt by the Palestinian Authority to secure statehood through the United Nations rather than through negotiation, as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Ben Dor said earlier this month that if the Palestinians, with UN non-member observer status, asked the ICC to resolve disputes with Israel, then Israel would “take unilateral steps to protect its interests”. He did not elaborate on what those measures would be.
President Mahmoud Abbas has said he does not “want any confrontations with the United States or Israel”, adding: “If we can start a dialogue or negotiations the day after the [UN] vote, we will.”
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