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Palestinians honor slain journo Shireen Abu Akleh in state memorial service, reject joint probe

Palestinian honor guards carry the coffin of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 12, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of Palestinians have gathered to honor veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at a memorial service in the occupied West Bank, a day after she was shot dead by Israeli troops during an army raid.

Abu Akleh, a veteran of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network's Arabic service, was shot in the head on Wednesday, when she was reporting on an Israeli raid against Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camp.

Her tragic death sent shockwaves across the region, drawing global condemnation against the Israeli regime. The United Nations and the European Union, among others, have already called for a full investigation into what Al Jazeera called a deliberate killing “in cold blood.”

On Thursday, thousands of mourning Palestinians lined the streets as her coffin, draped in the Palestinian flag, was driven through Ramallah.

She received what was described as a full state memorial organized by the Palestinian Authority at the Ramallah compound of president Mahmud Abbas, attended by foreign diplomats, prominent Arab Israeli politicians, and senior Palestinian leaders.

Many Palestinians attending the ceremony held flowers, wreaths and pictures of Abu Akleh, who has been widely praised for her bravery and professionalism through her coverage of the conflict.

Abu Akleh will be buried on Friday in a cemetery in the occupied Old City of East al-Quds near her home.

“This crime should not go unpunished,” said Abbas, stressing that the Palestinian Authority holds Israel “completely responsible” for her death.

He also “refused” and “rejected” an Israeli proposal for a joint investigation into the killing.

Hours after the killing, Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said it was “likely” Abu Akleh was killed by stray Palestinian gunfire. However, Israel’s minister for military affairs, Benny Gantz, later conceded that it could have been “the Palestinians who shot her” or fire from “our side.”

As her coffin was taken out of the presidential compound to the drumbeat of a marching band, crowds of mourning Palestinians began chanting slogans, demanding the Palestinian Authority terminate its security cooperation with the Tel Aviv regime.

She was “the sister of all Palestinians,” said her brother Antoun. “What happened cannot be silenced.”

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