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Palestinians mourn Israel's creation amid outcry over funeral raid

By AFP - May 15,2022 - Last updated at May 15,2022

Palestinian wave national flags and carry giant mock keys, a widely used symbol of the ‘Nakbeh’ or 'catastrophe'. Each year Palestinians commemorate the 'Nakbeh' on May 15, the official date of Israel's creation, as a result of which more than 760,000 Palestinians were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes (AFP photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Palestinians rallied Sunday to mark the "Nakbeh," or catastrophe, 74 years after Israel's creation, with condemnation spreading over an Israeli forces raid on the funeral of a slain journalist.

The annual demonstrations across the occupied West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and inside Israel came with tensions high over the killing of 51-year-old Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

The Palestinian-American was shot dead Wednesday during an Israeli raid in Jenin, a West Bank flashpoint. A Palestinian wounded in confrontations there, Daoud Al Zubaidi, died from his injuries in an Israeli hospital Sunday.

Israeli occupation authorities have vowed to investigate the chaos that marred the day of Abu Akleh's funeral, after television footage seen worldwide showed pallbearers struggling to stop the casket from toppling to the ground as baton-wielding Israeli forces descended upon them, grabbing Palestinian flags.

The scenes on Friday sparked international condemnation, including from the United States, United Nations and the European Union, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday calling for a “credible” investigation into Abu Akleh’s death as he offered condolences to her family.

Late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s foundation said Israeli forces “attacking pallbearers” was “chillingly reminiscent of the brutality” seen at the funerals of anti-apartheid activists.

Israeli commentators joined the chorus lambasting the raid as Abu Akleh’s coffin emerged at a Jerusalem hospital.

In leading Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Oded Shalom said the footage “documented a shocking display of unbridled brutality and violence”.

“The Jerusalem District Police decided to come down like a tonne of bricks on anyone who dared to hold a Palestinian flag,” Shalom wrote.

“As if holding up a flag, a mere piece of cloth, for God’s sake, at a funeral procession for an hour or two could have had any impact whatsoever” on Israeli claims to control over Jerusalem, he added.

Israeli forces regularly crack down on people holding Palestinian flags.

Thousands of Palestinians streamed through central Ramallah for the main Nakbeh rally, with crowds also turning out in Gaza City, in the Israeli-blocked strip. 

At a student Nakbeh event at Tel Aviv University (TAU), police said three Arabs were arrested “for attacking demonstrators and police officers”.

The arrests followed a confrontation with Im Tirtzu, a right-wing Israeli movement holding a counter rally. 

Arab TAU student Aline Nasra said that demonstrators were assaulted by Israeli forces as they moved to protect one of their members from Im Tirtzu threats.

The right-wing Israelis taunted the Arab students, including with calls that Israel is only for “Jewish people”, Nasra said.

 

Posthumous report 

 

Al Jazeera on Sunday posthumously aired a piece produced by Abu Akleh on the Nakbeh, which marks Israel’s 1948 creation.

A highly respected reporter, she was killed while wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest marked “Press”.

Israel’s army said an interim investigation could not determine who fired the fatal bullet, noting that stray Palestinian gunfire or Israeli sniper fire aimed at fighters were both possible causes.

The Palestinian public prosecution said an initial probe proved Israeli troops were to blame.

Abu Akleh’s posthumously aired piece retraced the fate of the Palestinian people since 1948, with a particular focus on refugees and the displaced.

More than 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes during the conflict that surrounded Israel’s creation.

 

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