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Palestinians welcome foreign support in inquiry into reporter’s death

RAMALLAH, West Bank, May 14 (Reuters) – The Palestinian Authority would welcome the involvement of international groups in the investigation into the death of an Al Jazeera journalist killed while reporting on an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian official said on Saturday.

The death of veteran reporter Shireen Abu Akleh has sparked an outpouring of grief and Israel police charged at a crowd of Palestinian mourners carrying her coffin through Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday, drawing international condemnation.

The violence, which lasted only minutes, added to Palestinian outrage over Abu Akleh’s killing, which has threatened to fuel tensions that have escalated since March.

Palestinian authorities have described the death of Abu Akleh as an assassination by Israeli forces. Israel initially suggested Palestinian fire might have been to blame, but officials have since said they could not rule out it was Israeli gunfire that killed her.

The U.N. Security Council has strongly condemned the killing and called for an “immediate, thorough, transparent, and fair and impartial investigation”.

Hussein al Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official, said on Twitter it would welcome the participation of all international bodies in its inquiry.

The authority has rejected an offer from Israel, which has voiced regret over Abu Akleh’s death, to cooperate in the investigation.

Israel police initially said some of the mourners near the coffin at Abu Akleh’s funeral threw stones at police officers.

In a later statement issued overnight, police said the mourners had not kept to the original funeral arrangement and “threatened the driver of the hearse and then proceeded to carry the coffin on an unplanned procession to the cemetery by foot”.

“Israeli Police intervened to disperse the mob and prevent them from taking the coffin, so that the funeral could proceed as planned in accordance with the wishes of the family,” police said.

At a hospital in Jerusalem, a Palestinian died on Saturday of wounds inflicted during clashes with Israeli security forces three weeks ago at the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

It was the first fatality from clashes at the sensitive holy site in several years.

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