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Israel Police Finish Probe of Abu Akleh Funeral but Findings Not Public

The Israel Police have finished investigating the violence between its officers and mourners participating in the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist for Al Jazeera. But the police have refused to make the findings public, saying that Public Security Minister Omar Barlev has been briefed on its findings. Abu Akleh was killed last month while reporting on an Israel Defense Forces raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. During the funeral, police officers were captured on video hitting pallbearers with batons, nearly causing the casket to fall to the ground, after it was removed from Jerusalem’s St. Joseph’s Hospital. The police say that funeral-goers were violent toward them, and that they used force to protect themselves as well as to prevent the funeral from becoming nationalistic, led by a violent mob. The Israel Police claimed that an agreement had been struck with the journalist’s family for the coffin to be carried in a hearse, with the violence breaking out when mourners refused to let the hearse through and insisted upon carrying the coffin on foot. The family denies any such agreement was made. In addition, security footage from inside the hospital showed the baton-wielding officers wearing protective vests and helmets entering the hospital prior to the funeral procession and hitting patients, staff and visitors. Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Thursday that the investigation found that the police acted with misconduct and, according to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, that the police “will aim at improving the conduct of similar incidences in the future.” Shabtai also said that: “It is impossible to remain indifferent to the hard images and we must investigate so that sensitive events such as these are not violently disturbed.” He called the Abu Akleh funeral procession a “complex event.” The investigation was ordered in May, right after the funeral.