The UN Security Council has strongly condemned the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and called for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, and fair and impartial investigation” into her death.
Abu Akleh was killed while reporting on an Israeli military operation in the occupied West Bank.
The statement approved by the 15 council members on Friday night reiterated “that journalists should be protected as civilians” and also condemned the injury to Abu Akleh’s colleague.
Abu Akleh, 51, was a household name across the Arab world, renowned for her coverage of Palestinian life under Israeli rule for more than 25 years.
She was shot dead on Wednesday during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank town of Jenin. Journalists who were with her, including an Al Jazeera colleague who was shot and wounded, said Israeli forces fired upon them even though they were clearly identifiable as reporters.
Sections of the Security Council draft statement that stressed the importance of media freedom and the need for journalists working in dangerous areas to be protected were removed at the insistence of China and Russia, diplomats told Associated Press.
Anger at Abu Akleh’s killing escalated on Friday when Israeli riot police pushed and beat pallbearers at the start of her funeral in Jerusalem, causing them to briefly drop her casket.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was "deeply troubled" by the police action at the funeral.
"Every family deserves to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified and unimpeded manner," Mr Blinken said on Twitter.
Israel says it is investigating Abu Alkeh's death. It initially suggested she might have been shot by Palestinian militants, without providing evidence, but has since backtracked. Israel called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank and co-operates with it on security.
But the Palestinians rejected a joint investigation and demanded an independent international investigation.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for her killing and said he would immediately ask the International Criminal Court to investigate. The ICC launched an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes over a year ago, a probe Israel has rejected as biased.
The Security Council did not use the word international, calling for an impartial investigation and stressing the need to ensure accountability.
Negotiations on the council statement were led by Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Norway’s UN Ambassador Mona Juul commended the “good collaboration”, calling the protection of journalists a priority for her country.
“We are particularly concerned about the rising trend in attacks on media works, and on women journalists in particular,” Ms Juul said.
With reporting from Associated Press