A 51-year-old Palestinian Christian who also has American nationality, the journalist from the Qatari channel Al Jazeera is to be buried in Jerusalem, where she grew up, after a mass at 3:00 p.m. (12:00 GMT) in a church in the Old City.
Thousands of Palestinians have already paid tribute to him Thursday, the day after his death, during an official ceremony at the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. His coffin, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, was transported there in front of an audience of officials, foreign diplomats or ordinary citizens.
“I came to say goodbye to the one who is deep in our hearts,” testified one of them, Douaa Abou Adi. Shireen Abu Akleh “is not only in every Palestinian home but in every Arab heart. For all Palestinians, she is a sister”.
After the ceremony, a crowd followed the ambulance transporting his remains to the crossing point between the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a Palestinian area occupied and annexed by the Jewish state. Residents of the West Bank, overwhelmingly, do not have access to Jerusalem.
Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head on Wednesday in the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of Palestinian armed factions in the northern West Bank from which perpetrators of recent attacks in Israel originated. The Israeli army had launched an operation there to apprehend wanted Palestinians.
Al Jazeera accused Israeli forces of “deliberately” and “cold blooded” killing its star journalist, who was wearing a “press” bullet-proof vest and a reporting helmet.
Israel, after saying that she had “probably” succumbed to Palestinian fire, said it did not rule out that the bullet was fired by its soldiers.
“We need forensic evidence” from the Palestinians, including the bullet that killed the journalist, in order to conduct a “full” investigation, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.
– “Voice of Palestine” –
“It may have been a Palestinian who shot her… The shot may have also come from our side, we are investigating,” he said.
During the ceremony in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he held the Israeli authorities “completely responsible” for the journalist’s death, refusing a joint investigation with Israel.
“The Israeli authorities committed this crime and we do not trust them,” he said, saying he wanted to seize the International Criminal Court.
A first autopsy was conducted in Nablus, in the West Bank, shortly after his death but no final conclusion has been communicated.
The death of Shireen Abu Akleh has sparked a wave of emotion in the Palestinian Territories, in the Arab world where his reports have been followed for more than two decades, in Europe and in the United States.
The portrait of the journalist, the seventh to be killed in the Palestinian Territories since 2018 according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), was waved at rallies in Turkey, Sudan and Lebanon, and projected onto a building in Doha, the Qatari capital.
Several demonstrations have also erupted spontaneously since Wednesday across the Palestinian Territories to protest his death. In the Gaza Strip, artists carved his name in the sand and painted a mural in his honor, while at the place of his death in Jenin, children laid flowers.
On the roof of a building in the central square of Ramallah, the huge billboard now displays a portrait of the journalist, accompanied by a sober message: “Goodbye Shireen, goodbye the voice of Palestine”.