A state service for the slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is expected to begin shortly in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, a day after she was killed by Israeli forces.
Abu Akleh’s body left the Istishari Hospital in the occupied West Bank city on Thursday morning and arrived at the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) presidential compound, where President Mahmoud Abbas honored her and bid her farewell.
“We reject the joint investigation with Israel into the killing of Abu Akleh,” Abbas said and added that the Palestinians would go to the International Criminal Court to seek justice.
Military service was also held for Abu Akleh at the compound.
Abu Akleh’s body will be taken in a convoy to the St Louis French Hospital in Sheikh Jarrah, in occupied East Jerusalem, where her family lives.
Abu Akleh’s burial is expected to take place on Friday in occupied East Jerusalem.
Journalists and mourners began gathering on Thursday morning at the hospital in preparation for the ceremony.
On Wednesday, Abu Akleh was honored in several Palestinian cities, such as Jenin, where she was killed, Nablus, and Ramallah, as her body was brought to the city. Several protests were held, with hundreds of Palestinians attending.
Friends and family bid Shireen Abu Akleh farewell at the Istishari Hospital in Ramallah [Zena Al Tahhan/Al Jazeera]
Witnesses, including Al Jazeera journalists, said Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces during coverage of a raid in Jenin on Wednesday morning.
They rejected initial Israeli claims that Palestinian fighters were likely responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, and that clashes were happening near her and the group of journalists she was with, all of whom were clearly identified as members of the press.
Ali al-Samoudi, an Al Jazeera journalist who was also shot, said Israeli forces had fired at Abu Akleh.
Israel now appears to be walking back some of its initial claims after government officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, claimed a video appearing to show Palestinian fighters firing in a Jenin alleyway was evidence that Palestinians had killed Abu Akleh.
Verification efforts have shown that the alleyway was not in the area where Abu Akleh was shot.
Israel’s military chief, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, has now said that it is unclear who shot Abu Akleh.
Abu Akleh was a well-known and respected television correspondent across Palestine and the wider Arab world. She joined Al Jazeera in 1997, a year after the network was launched.
The 51-year-old Palestinian-American native of Jerusalem reported from across the occupied Palestinian territory and the wider region.