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Israeli use of force at journalist’s funeral ‘shocking’: UN rights chief

Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was buried on Friday. Source: Times of Israel.

GENEVA: UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet has expressed shock over Israeli authorities’ use of force at the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and called for a prompt and transparent probe into her killing.

“I am following with deep distress events in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem,” Ms Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

Her call for a transparent probe comes in the wake of the killing of Shireeen Abu Akleh, the correspondent for Al-Jazeera, who was fatally shot on Wednesday while covering an Israeli raid in occupied West Bank.

The High Commissioner issued a statement saying she was following “with deep distress” the events in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“Footage of Israeli police attacking mourners at the funeral procession of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in East Jerusalem on Friday 13 May was shocking. Reports indicate that at least 33 people were injured,” she said.

Ms Bachelet said the Israeli use of force, which was being filmed and broadcast live, appeared to be unnecessary and must be promptly and transparently investigated.

“There must be accountability for the terrible killing not just of Shireen Abu Akleh but for all the killings and serious injuries in the occupied Palestinian territory,” she said.

The UN rights chief reported that 48 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces so far this year. The latest death occurred on Saturday when a young man called Walid al-Sharif, succumbed to injuries sustained during clashes last month at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

“As I have called for many times before, there must be appropriate investigations into the actions of Israeli security forces,” Ms Bachelet said. “Anyone found responsible should be held to account with penal and disciplinary sanctions commensurate to the gravity of the violation. This culture of impunity must end now.”

The killing of Ms Abu Akleh has sent shockwaves across the globe, and UN officials have been among those calling for an investigation. The journalist was shot even though she wore a vest that identified her as a member of the press corps. Her producer also was wounded.

The UN Security Council issued a statement on Friday strongly condemning her killing, reiterating that journalists should be protected as civilians. The vouncil also called for an immediate, thorough, transparent, and fair and impartial investigation into her killing, and stressed the need to ensure accountability.

 

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