FILE - Israeli police confront mourners as they carry the casket of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in east Jerusalem, Friday, May 13, 2022. Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the top Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, told reporters at St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem on Monday that the police beating mourners as they carried Shireen Abu Akleh's her casket was a disproportionate use of force that “disrespected” the Catholic Church. He added that Israel committed a “severe violation” of international norms. (AP Photo/Maya Levin, File)

Israel’s Top Catholic Prelate Condemns Police Funeral Attack

The top Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land on Monday, condemned the police beating of mourners carrying the casket of Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, accusing the authorities of violating human rights and disrespecting the Catholic Church.

Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa told newsmen at St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem that Friday’s incident, broadcasted around the world, was a “disproportionate use of force” to the Palestinian flag-waving crowd of thousands proceeding from the hospital to a nearby Catholic church in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The attack drew worldwide condemnation and added to the shock and outrage of Abu Akleh’s killing while she covered a shootout in the occupied West Bank.

Pizzaballa said, “it is a severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, which must be observed also in a public space.”

There was no immediate Israeli response.

Israel and Palestine are locked in a war of narratives over Abu Akleh’s killing. The reporter, a Palestinian-American and a 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, was killed on Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp. She was a household name across the Arab world, known for documenting the hardship of Palestinian life under Israeli rule.

Palestinian officials and witnesses, including journalists who were with her, say she was killed by army fire. The military, after initially saying Palestinian gunmen might have been responsible, has recanted, saying now that it is not clear who fired the deadly bullet.

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