(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply troubled” over images of Israeli police charging into the funeral procession of a Palestinian-American television reporter who was fatally shot on the West Bank earlier this week.
Video shows helmeted officers swinging riot sticks at people surrounding the coffin of Shireen Abu Akleh, including pallbearers, as it was being borne from a hospital in East Jerusalem on Friday.
Tensions had already been running high over the death of Abu Akleh, a veteran Middle East correspondent, who was covering clashes between gunmen and Israeli troops in Jenin for the Al Jazeera network when she was shot on Tuesday.
Al Jazeera blamed Israeli forces, while Israel said there was evidence that Abu Akleh, 51, and another reporter who was wounded had been hit by Palestinian gunfire.
“We were deeply troubled by the images of Israeli police intruding into the funeral procession,” Blinken said in a statement on Friday. “Every family deserves to be able to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price met with Palestinian journalists on Thursday, according to a department official.
Israeli police said they moved in at the funeral after stones had been thrown from the crowd, according to the Associated Press. The office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday night.
Bennett said earlier that evidence suggested that “armed Palestinians, who were indiscriminately firing at the time” were responsible for Abu Akleh’s death. He posted a video clip shared on social media in which Palestinians from Jenin boasted that they had “hit a soldier.” Since no troops were injured, Bennett added, “it was likely that Palestinian fire killed the reporter.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that he held the Israeli government fully responsible for Abu Akleh’s death.
An obituary on the Al Jazeera website said Abu Akleh had been wearing “a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word ‘PRESS.’”
The clashes in Jenin occurred amid an upsurge in violence that began in late March as Muslim and Jewish religious holidays coincided. Almost 30 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli raids across the West Bank and in Jerusalem, while 19 people have died in attacks in Israeli cities and towns, some carried out by Palestinians from in or near Jenin.
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