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Al-Quds archbishop, Christian churches condemns Israeli forces' attack on veteran journalist's funeral

Israeli police confront mourners as they carry the casket of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in East al-Quds, on May 13, 2022. (Photo by AP)

The Catholic archbishop and an organization of Christian churches in the occupied city of al-Quds have condemned Israeli forces' attack on mourners attending the funeral procession of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, accusing the regime of violating human rights and disrespecting the Catholic Church.

Latin Patriarch of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, denounced "Israel's police invasion and disproportionate use of force" at a press conference at St Joseph French Hospital in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of al-Quds on Monday, where Abu Akleh body was being held.

He further accused Israeli police of "attacking mourners, striking them with batons, using smoke grenades (and) shooting rubber bullets," as they began to move Abu Akleh’s casket from the hospital.

"The police stormed into a Christian health institute, disrespecting the church, disrespecting the health institute, disrespecting the memory of the deceased, and forcing the pallbearers to almost drop the coffin," Pizzaballa said, speaking on behalf of the bishops of the occupied Old City of al-Quds.

The Catholic archbishop went on to say that the regime force's actions were "severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental right of freedom of religion."

Meanwhile, an organization representing 12 Christian denominations also on Monday condemned an Israeli forces' attack on the funeral of the journalist, describing their actions as a violation of freedom of religion.

The Israeli forces' actions constituted an "invasion and disproportionate use of force ... (and) a severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental right of freedom of religion", a hospital statement quoted the Christian Churches of the Holy Land group as saying.

On Friday, Israeli forces attacked and beat the mourners attending the funeral procession of Abu Akleh, who was killed by the regime troops in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Media reports said Israeli forces assaulted mourners to prevent them from carrying the coffin of Abu Akleh from the hospital to the Roman Catholic church in the Old City, before taking her to the Mount Zion cemetery, where she was laid to rest alongside her deceased parents.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 33 people were wounded in the Israeli attack on the funeral procession.

Ahead of the funeral, the Israeli regime had imposed a number of restrictions, including on the number of mourners attending the service and the use of Palestinian flags and posters.

Despite the restrictions, thousands of Muslim and Christian Palestinians from al-Quds and from across the occupied territories, including many colleagues and fellow journalists, came to pay their respects to the slain Palestinian journalist. 

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.”

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