Beating of Palestinian mourners recalls apartheid: Tutu foundation

Sat, 2022-05-14 23:36

JOHANNESBURG: Israeli police charging the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is “reminiscent” of violence during apartheid South Africa, the foundation of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu said on Saturday.
“The scenes of members of the Israeli security forces attacking pallbearers at the funeral in Jerusalem of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh were chillingly reminiscent of the brutality met out to mourners at the funerals of anti-apartheid activists in South Africa during our struggle for freedom, Mamphela Ramphele, director of the Desmond Tutu Foundation, said in a statement.
“As Archbishop Tutu taught us, the perpetrators of violence and human rights violations might think they are advancing their goals, but are in fact undermining their own humanity and integrity,” she said.
Ramphele added that members of the Israeli security forces were “evidently responsible” for Abu Akleh being shot in the head on Wednesday as she covered news in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
“To further inflame the situation by attacking her funeral cortege is like seeking to extinguish righteous flames with a can of petrol,” she said.
Other South Africans also joined an international outcry after Israeli security forces attacked the pallbearers on Friday.
Political analyst Eusebius McKaiser on Twitter said the violence was all too familiar.
“South Africans have such memory. Apartheid police also liked attacking us at our funerals after murdering us,” he wrote.
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of committing crimes of apartheid against Palestinians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and inside Israel.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Tutu died late last year after a lifetime battling injustice, during which he called for Palestinian statehood.
Israel’s police chief on Saturday ordered an investigation into the actions of officers at the funeral of Abu Akleh.
“The Israel police commissioner in coordination with the minister of public security has instructed that an investigation be conducted into the incident,” the police said in a statement.
They had coordinated funeral arrangements with the journalist’s family but “rioters tried to sabotage the ceremony and harm the police,” it said.
“As with any operational incident, and certainly an incident in which police officers were exposed to violence by rioters and in which force was later used by the police, the Israel Police will be looking into the events that ensued during the funeral,” it added .
Spain’s Foreign Ministry, in a tweet, called “totally unacceptable” the scenes showing “disproportionate use of violence by the Israeli police” at the funeral.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed deep shock “that the funeral ceremony could not be held in peace and dignity.”

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