The Holy See believes that the Israeli police's attack during the funeral of a Palestinian journalist constituted as a violation of religious freedom.
Father Thomas Grysa, who serves as the charge of affairs of the Apostolic Delegation to the Holy Land, believes that Israeli police had "violated in a very brutal manner" relgious freedom rights of the mourners of the slain Palestinian journalists during her funeral. Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was killed while she was reporting on an Israeli raid in Jenin in the West Bank.
Father Grysa said that the religious freedom right is "included in the fundamental agreement between Israel and the Holy See" and that the Israeli police's violation of religious freedom of Palestinians "constitutes a moment of tension between Israel and the Holy See," Ansa Med reported.
Israeli Police Charge at Mourners at Shireen Abu Akleh's Funeral
On May 11, Abu Akleh was shot in the head by Israeli forces while reporting on Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin in the northern side of the occupied West Bank, Al Jazeera reported. The longtime TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic was rushed to a hospital while in critical condition but passed away shortly thereafter. Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest and was with other journalists when she was shot. Another journalist, Ali al-Samoudi was wounded by a bullet but survived.
On May 13, mourners held Abu Akleh's funeral, carrying her casket when suddenly, Israeli police attacked, beating mourners with batons. Video footage of the scene circulated all over the internet, including social media, where many have denounced the act.
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa spoke out against the Israeli police's behavior, saying that the church was "shocked by the unjustifiable modalities for what happened" and "denounce and condemn it in a clear and unequivocal way." He added that security reasons can't justify Israeli police beating up mourners carrying the casket of Abu Akleh.
A document released during a press conference chaired by Pizzaballa on Monday in Jerusalem reported that Israeli police not only broke into a Christian hospital but failed to "respect the Church, the hospital...and the memory of the deceased" as they forced the pallbearers to drop Abu Akleh's coffin. The mourners were attacked with batons, stun grenades, and rubber bullets.
Israeli Police Attacked Mourners at a Christian Hospital
According to Crux Now, the Israeli police's attack occurred in St. Joseph Hospital, which is owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, a French-founded congregation that has been operating in the Holy Land for almost 200 years. As an institution, it has proudly been a place of healing for people, regardless of religious background.
Israeli police said they would investigate the incident, which was broadcast all over the world and sparked intense criticism and condemnation from the U.S., European Union, and United Nations. Israeli police claimed that they came to an agreement with Abu Akleh's family that no Palestinian flags or nationalistic slogans would be flown during the funeral procession.
But Abu Akleh's brother, Anton, disputed those claims. While he said that they were warned by Israeli police not to exhibit the Palestinian flag, he said that "this was something we cannot control." Anton, who was one of the pallbearers, added that the police wanted to know the funeral route and they attacked just as they were to place the coffin into the car.
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