Israeli police beat mourners at Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral

ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery reports on the chaos that unfolded at Shireen Abu Akleh's funeral procession

Israeli police attacked a funeral procession for slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Friday, beating mourners with batons and causing them to almost drop the coffin.

Thousands of mourners, some hoisting Palestinian flags and chanting “Palestine, Palestine,” attended the funeral for the Palestinian-American reporter, who witnesses say was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank.

The mourners tried to march with the coffin on foot out of a hospital to a Catholic church in the nearby Old City.

But police said the crowd at the hospital was chanting “nationalist incitement,” ignored calls to stop and threw stones at police. “The policemen were forced to act,” they said.

In video of the shooting on Wednesday, Ms Abu Akleh can be seen wearing a blue flak jacket clearly marked with the word “PRESS.”

Watch as Israeli police moved in on a crowd of mourners, beating demonstrators with batons and nearly causing pallbearers to almost drop the coffin

In a statement, Al Jazeera blamed Israel, calling on the international community to "condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague, Shireen Abu Akleh."

The broadcaster said her death "violates international laws and norms" adding: "We pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice."

The violence at Friday's funeral came during a rare show of Palestinian nationalism in east Jerusalem - the part of the holy city that Israel captured in 1967 and that the Palestinians claim as their capital.

Israel says east Jerusalem is part of its capital and has annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. It routinely clamps down on any displays of support for Palestinian statehood.

Shireen Abu Akleh was described as a 'kind, dedicated, devoted' journalist after her death. Credit: AP

“We die for Palestine to live,” the crowd chanted in the funeral procession. “Our beloved home.” Later, they sang the Palestinian national anthem.

Recent days have seen an outpouring of grief from across the Palestinian territories and the wider Arab world for Ms Abu Akleh, a widely respected on-air correspondent who spent a quarter century covering the harsh realities of life under Israeli military rule, which is well into its sixth decade with no end in sight.

After the service, thousands headed to the cemetery, waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Palestine, Palestine."

Several hours later, she was buried in a cemetery outside the Old City.

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Israel's investigation

The Israeli military has said its initial investigation into Ms Abu Akleh's death showed a heavy firefight was underway in the West Bank town of Jenin around 200 metres from where she was killed, but that it was unable to determine whether she was shot by Israeli forces or Palestinian militants.

Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and for it to hand over the bullet for forensic analysis to determine who fired the fatal round.

The PA has refused, saying it will conduct its own investigation and send the results to the International Criminal Court, which is already investigating possible Israeli war crimes.

In a statement issued on Friday, the military said Palestinian gunmen recklessly fired hundreds of rounds at an Israeli military vehicle, some in the direction of where Ms Abu Akleh was standing. It said Israeli forces returned fire, and that without doing ballistic analysis it cannot determine who was responsible for her death.

“The conclusion of the interim investigation is that it is not possible to determine the source of the fire that hit and killed the reporter,” the military said.