Israel has arrested one of the porters of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, police said Thursday, but rejected his lawyer’s claim that the detention was related to his role at the funeral.
In a raid that sparked international outrage, Israeli police armed with batons beat several pallbearers as they carried the journalist’s coffin out of a hospital in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
Abu Akleh was shot dead in an Israeli army raid in the West Bank last week.
The Palestinians and the TV station said Israeli troops killed her, while Israel said she may have been killed by Palestinian gunfire or a stray shot from an Israeli sniper .
The bearer’s lawyer Amro Abu Khudeir told AFP his client was arrested and questioned about his role at the funeral.
According to the lawyer, Khaldoun Najm, Israel also claimed to have “a secret file on the membership (of Khudeir) in a terrorist organization”.
“I think they will arrest more young men who attended the funeral,” Najm said. “For them, the subject of the funeral and the coffin was outrageous.”
Police have dismissed any connection between the funeral and Khudeir’s arrest.
“We are witnessing an attempt to produce a plot that is fundamentally incorrect,” a statement read. “The suspect was arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation which, contrary to allegations, had nothing to do with his participation in the funeral procession.”
Police justifications for the raid at St. Joseph’s Hospital have varied.
They cited the need to stamp out “nationalist” chants and also said “rioters” among mourners threw projectiles at officers.
Israeli forces frequently crack down on displays of Palestinian identity, including the national flag, one of which was draped over Abu Akleh’s coffin.
Police have pledged to investigate the controversial incident.
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