At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki described video footage of the confrontation as “deeply disturbing” and said, “We are sorry for the intrusion on what should have been a peaceful procession.”
Israel’s regional cooperation minister, Esawi Frej, one of the first Arabs to serve as an Israeli minister, said on Twitter that the police force had “desecrated” Ms. Abu Akleh’s memory and funeral, producing “an unnecessary outburst.” ”. He added: “The police showed zero respect for the mourners and zero understanding of their role as the organization responsible for maintaining order, not their violation.”
As the confrontation intensified, Mr. Kühn von Burgsdorff, the European Union’s envoy to the Palestinians, tried to mediate between the police and the mourners, he said. Realizing that it was impossible to persuade the police to change their mind, Ms Abu Akleh’s brother Anton also asked mourners to put the coffin in the hearse, Mr Kühn von Burgsdorff added.
But neither side backed down, as mourners clung to the coffin and waved Palestinian flags against police demands. East Jerusalem is populated mostly by Palestinians, and is viewed by most of the world as occupied territory, but Israel has annexed the area, considers it part of its capital, and often prevents expressions of Palestinian nationalism there.
After warning the crowd to stop singing, to no avail, and after three plastic bottles were thrown in the direction of police, the police abruptly lunged at the mourners, video showed.
The officers waved their batons. They kicked and punched the men carrying the coffin, forcing them back. They tackled a man who had backed into the group carrying the coffin and then kicked him as he lay on the ground, the video shows.