Israel fails to release findings from probe into the unrest at Abu Akleh's funeral

Israeli police ended its internal investigation yesterday, sending its findings to the Ministry of Public Security. The latter have not been released yet, but leaks indicate that the operation was marred by errors. For the victim’s brother, Anton, the Israelis “are trying to cover up their actions and mistakes.”

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israeli police completed an internal probe to ascertain what happened at the funeral of Palestinian Christian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Police sent it findings to Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, which were not released to the public. According to sources, police agents involved in the incident were to blame as also evinced by videos posted on social media.

Akleh was a long-time journalist for al-Jazeera. She was killed last month, most likely by bullets fired by Israeli soldiers, while covering an army operation at the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

According to a Palestinian probe, an Israeli soldier deliberately shot her in what it describes as a war crime. Israel has rejected the charge, claiming instead that an armed Palestinian killed her during a gun battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

What is certain is that her death triggered protests by Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims, who waved Palestinian flags and asserted their Palestinian identity. This, in turn, triggered a hard reaction by Israeli police.

The crackdown began at St Joseph's Hospital, a medical facility run by Catholic nuns in Jerusalem. Following the incident, Churches in the Holy Land, especially the Latin Patriarchate, issued an unusually harsh condemnation of the Israeli action.

Shireen Abu Akleh's brother Anton was among the first to react to the Israeli probe, dismissing it. "We don't care what Israel says or does, everything is clear from the photos. The police are the aggressors," he told AFP. "They are trying to cover up their actions and mistakes."

Although the police investigation reportedly ended yesterday, the findings have not been made public. Human rights groups have criticised this, demanding that full light be shed not only on the death of the Christian journalist, but also on the unrest at the funeral.

According to Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai the funeral procession “was a complex event" and it is "impossible to remain indifferent to the hard images”.

Yet, while he may want transparency, very little has transpired so far from the probe, except for an implicit admission of responsibility.

According to Channel 13, the police report suggests that the use of force could have been avoided, especially the use of stun grenades against protesters and ordinary citizens.