BLOG 565

May 16, 2022


Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.


Israelis have come to expect explosions over almost nothing. One would think a funeral would be a solemn occasion with dignity. Sorry, it didn’t happen this week.

Israeli police violently dispersed an attempt by Palestinians to carry the casket of deceased journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the Old City as thousands arrived to grieve for the widely beloved correspondent on Friday. Over ten thousand Palestinians paid their respects to Abu Akleh carried in a casket d during what became a long, tense funeral that wound across the city from Sheikh Jarrah to the Mount Zion cemetery. Cops used clubs against some of those around the casket, which almost fell, and fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The police said in a subsequent statement that it intervened because rioters took her casket at the hospital against her family’s wishes, and prevented it from being loaded onto a hearse, as previously agreed, for that part of the funeral procession. The clashes at Saint Joseph’s Hospital erupted after Palestinians sought to wave Palestinian flags. Police had designated that the procession would begin at the Jaffa Gate, less than two miles away.

However, in an interview with the BBC, Abu Akleh’s brother Tony appeared to deny the Israeli Police version of events, saying that the family and mourners hoped to hold a “small procession” but were “bombarded” by officers as they left the hospital.

A group of Palestinians at the hospital seized Abu Akleh’s casket in an attempt to begin the impromptu march, beating the hearse that would take her to the Old City, according to The Washington Post. Abu Akleh’s brother reportedly sought to calm the crowd and have them return his sister’s body to the hearse. “For God’s sake, let us put her in the car and finish the day,” he said.

“The crowd seized the coffin, leading the Palestinians gathered in the hospital square to cheer, carrying her casket forward. After a brief standoff, officers rushed the crowd. Israeli Police intervened to disperse the mob and prevent them from taking the coffin, so that the funeral could proceed as planned in accordance with the wishes of the family,” police said in a statement on Friday night.

Video released by Israeli Police showed at least one Palestinian hurled an object at Israeli officers before the dispersal began. The footage then showed Palestinians throwing objects at police after officers had moved to disperse the crowd.

Abu Akleh’s body was later taken by van, surrounded by a police escort, to the Greek Melkite Church near Jaffa Gate. Officers tore Palestinian flags off of the van as well before escorting it to the ancient sanctuary.

When Abu Akleh’s body was laid to rest, the crowd burst into repeated rounds of applause, honoring her work in death, as in life. Arif Hammad, a resident of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood said, “She was a Palestinian icon. She told our story to the whole world. She gave us everything she had to give.”

Readers of my Wise on the Middle East blog will be fascinated by my latest book



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Filed under Palestinians, The Middle East, Violence

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