Shireen Abu Akleh: Thousands mourn dead journalist as Palestinians demand responsibility

Journalists, diplomats, religious leaders and officials, including Arab members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, took part in the memorial procession at the Palestinian Authority president’s residence, which saw Abu Akleh’s coffin bearing the Palestinian flag being carried as honor guards played musical instruments. Crowds that gathered in the streets outside the residence were heard chanting “the honest voice never dies” and “We sacrifice our blood and spirit for you Shireen”.

The memorial was attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who in a speech at the event rejected Israel’s offer for a joint investigation into the murder of Abu Akleh and promised to take the case to the ICC.

“We reject and continue to reject the joint investigation with the Israeli occupation authorities because they committed the crime and we don’t trust them,” Abbas said, standing in front of Abu Akleh’s coffin. “We will immediately go to the International Criminal Court to track down the killers.”

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh said the government will share the findings of the investigation with the United States, Qatar and the ICC, adding that it will be completed “soon” and will include an autopsy report.

The Palestinian-American was shot dead on Wednesday while reporting on Israeli military strikes in the West Bank city of Jenin. Akleh’s producer, Ali Al-Samudi, was also shot and is in stable condition, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

After the procession, Abu Akleh’s body was taken to St. Joseph in East Jerusalem, where journalists and friends stood outside, crying as they hugged each other. A crowd of supporters gathered outside the hospital, holding roses and chanting “God rest her soul, Shireen”.

When the ambulance carrying Abu Akleh arrived, dozens gathered to help carry his coffin to the hospital, draped in roses and the Palestinian flag.

The mourners also placed flowers at the door of Abu Akleh’s home in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem.

“Shireen is my daughter, her parents are dead, but we are all her parents,” said 63-year-old Nafisa Khwais, who was sitting next to Abu Akleh’s house, “we are all her family.”

“Silencing her will never stop us from standing up and telling our story,” Khwais added.

Al Jazeera accused Israeli security forces of deliberately attacking and killing Abu Akleh, 51 – one of the most prominent journalists in the Arab world. His death was met with regional and international outrage and demands accountability.

The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear. Three eyewitnesses told CNN that the journalists were shot by Israeli troops and that there were no Palestinian militants alongside the journalists at the time.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid proposed a joint Israeli-Palestinian investigation into the death on Wednesday.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its forces came under heavy fire during the counterterrorism operation and that they responded to the fire.

International IDF spokesperson Amnon Shefler told CNN on Wednesday that the Israelis “just don’t know yet” who killed Abu Akhleh, in what appeared to be an understatement of earlier statements by Israeli officials who said she was ” probably” shot by Palestinian militants’ crossfire.

His employer, Al Jazeera, called his death a “blatant murder” by Israeli forces.

Abu Akleh’s funeral will take place on Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Bab Al-Khalil, before she is buried at Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem alongside her parents.

CNN’s Celine Alkhaldi, Nadeen Ebrahim and Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi contributed to this report.

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