Why Israel Is Afraid of Palestinian Funerals

Foreign Policy columnist Anchal Vohra delves into the motives behind the Israeli occupation forces assaulting the mourners and pallbearers who were commemorating martyred Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral.

ALMAYADEEN reports on the FP opinion piece: The Israeli occupation forces not only killed a veteran Palestinian journalist reporting on its crimes in occupied Palestine; its forces took to the streets during her funeral and assaulted the pallbearers in a mobilization that made it seem like there was an ongoing riot when it was only Shireen Abu Akleh’s family, loved ones, and supporters mourning the loss of someone dear to them who helped voice the Palestinian cause and shine the light on Israeli brutality and violations of human rights.

Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered on May 11 when Israeli occupation forces storming the Jenin refugee camp, north of the West Bank, shot her with a live bullet to the head as she was covering the events of the storming.

Shireen’s brother, Anton, was going from one Israeli occupation police officer to the other, asking them to stop assaulting the people in his sister’s funeral procession, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. The Israeli occupation is no stranger to murdering Palestinians in cold blood, but violating their funerals, a sacred ceremony made to honor the dead, is on a whole other level.

Anton said the Israeli occupation ignored and almost attacked him as they were assaulting his sister’s pallbearers and almost caused her coffin to fall on the floor – a flagrant sign of disrespect toward the martyr.

Watch | Israeli occupation brutally assaults the crowds at #ShireenAbuAkleh‘s funeral. Source: @MayadeeenEnglish

Tens of thousands had gathered in occupied Al-Quds two days after Abu Akleh’s murder to commemorate the journalist who dedicated her life to the Palestinian cause, and the IOF took it upon itself to assault as many of them as possible and even arrested several a few days after the funeral.

What is outrageous about the assaults committed during the funeral procession is that the mourners were not committing any act that could provoke the Israeli occupation or pose some form of a so-called “security threat”. Anton Abu Akleh stressed that the men were simply transporting her sister’s coffin to the hearse, some 30 meters from the morgue’s entrance. However, just as they murdered the journalist days earlier unprovoked, the Israeli occupation forces do not need a reason to assault Palestinian civilians.

“The minute Shireen was brought out of the morgue, that very minute, the Israeli police attacked the pallbearers,” he said on Friday, as quoted by Foreign Policy. “I didn’t know what to do in the face of such barbaric and extensive use of force by the police.”

The article we’ll be shining the light on today is one written by Anchal Vohra for Foreign Policy, and it explains “Why Israel Is Afraid of Palestinian Funerals”.

Vohra explains that anywhere in the world that is undergoing turmoil, or in the case of Palestine, an all-out unjust, oppressive occupation, funeral processions of any public or political figure are met with dread from the security forces. A funeral of someone murdered by an oppressive regime such as that of the Israeli occupation is seen as an opportunity to spread the victim’s message and turn them into more of an icon. Abu Akleh had been an icon through the last three decades of her life, which she spent covering Israeli criminality.

The Israeli occupation, in a bid to curb the freedom of speech of Palestinians, prohibited Palestinian flags and chants during the procession. The occupation carried out its threats and ended up attacking the mourners, ripping the Palestinian flags out of their hands and arresting those who made pro-Palestinian chants, practically telling the world that they would go far and beyond in their censorship to even ban any form of support for Palestine. In occupied Palestine.

The Israeli occupation’s actions at Abu Akleh’s funeral, FP said, “seem to indicate it is more concerned about the long-lasting impact of large public funerals of Palestinian icons than potential backlash by human rights groups and the international community.”

The occupation is simply keener on violating the human rights of Palestinians, which they claim could threaten Israeli security, than they are on decency and humane practice, which stems from the supremacist ideals they use to discriminate against the Palestinian people.

The aggression was accompanied by claims from a senior Israeli security official that “Tel Aviv” was worried about violence erupting at funerals held for the Palestinians murdered by the IOF as well as the “broader impact of the glorification of martyrdom.”

“At the time of the Second Intifada, public funerals were used to mobilize big crowds and anger and feed the kind of passions that promoted violence against Israelis,” said US diplomat Dennis Ross. The Second Intifada started in 2000 and saw Palestinians uprising against the injustice they sustained under the Israeli occupation. It also saw the Israeli occupation murdering countless Palestinians in cold blood.

The West and the Israeli occupation speak of the issue as if the Palestinians do not have the right to protest against the Israeli occupation’s arbitrary policies and measures that take the lives of their people on daily basis.

Just days after Shireen’s funeral, Palestinians gathered to attend the funeral of 21-year-old Walid Al-Sharif, who was murdered by the Israeli occupation forces. They were also beaten by the Israeli occupation police simply for mourning a martyr who the latter had murdered.

The Israeli occupation is treating the funerals held for Palestinians it murdered as “political acts” rather than ceremonies held to commemorate the stolen lives of victims of oppression. The funeral itself is seen as “political”, but the murder of innocent people is not perceived as such, ironically.

Israeli officials have also taken the approach of labeling journalists as equivalent to terrorists, perhaps because they feel like shining the light on their inhumane and oppressive practices that evoke apartheid could provoke an international outcry and an uprising from the Palestinians, which would “jeopardize security” for the Israeli occupation.

“They were armed with cameras,” Israeli military spokesperson Ran Kochav said following Abu Akleh’s martyrdom. He boldly equated Shireen and other journalists present in Jenin and covering Israeli oppression at the time with armed fighters.

NOTE: Anchal Vohra, a columnist for Foreign Policy says Shireen Abu Akleh was neither a terrorist nor a dissident. But Israeli authorities treated the journalist’s funeral as a threat to their security. More here.