At the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki described the video of the clash as “deeply disturbing” and said, “We regret the intrusion into what should have been a peaceful procession.”
Israel’s regional cooperation minister, Esawi Frej, one of the first Arabs to serve as Israeli minister, said on Twitter that police had “desecrated” Abu Akleh’s memory and funeral, producing “an unnecessary outburst.” He added: “The police have shown zero respect for the bereaved and no understanding of their role as the organization responsible for maintaining order, not violating it.”
As the conflict escalated, Mr Kühn von Burgsdorff, the European Union’s envoy for the Palestinians, tried to mediate between the police and the bereaved, he said. Realizing that it was impossible to persuade the police to change their minds, Anton Abu Akleh’s brother, Anton, also asked the mourners to put the coffin in the funicular carriage, added Mr Kühn von Burgsdorff.
But neither side backed down as mourners clung to the coffin and waved Palestinian flags against police demands. East Jerusalem is largely populated by Palestinians, and most of the world considers it an occupied territory – but Israel annexed the area, considered it part of its capital, and often prevented the expression of Palestinian nationalism there.
After warning the crowd not to sing, without success, and after three plastic bottles were thrown in the direction of the police, the police suddenly turned to the mourners, the video showed.
The officers rocked their sticks. They hit and hit the men carrying the coffin, forcing them to turn around. They shot down a man who had returned to the group carrying the coffin, then kicked him while he was lying on the ground, the video showed.