We were forced to attack people carrying a coffin because they were clearly about to use it as a projectile, insists Israel

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Israel has defended its security service members who attacked pallbearers carrying the coffin of Palestinian American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aqleh, insisting they were clearly planning to use to coffin as a weapon.

Images of the Israeli security services attacking and beating those carrying the coffin have circulated widely over the last few days, leading to Israeli officials feeling the need to justify the violent action.

Government official Simon Levy told reporters, “These people will use anything as a weapon, and a large wooden projectile could do a lot of harm to innocent Israelis if it were thrown in our general direction, and that simply could not stand – so we took perfectly legitimate pre-emptive action to prevent that possibility.

“To the untrained eye it might have looked like we were beating unarmed men who were carrying the coffin of someone they loved and admired, a journalist who had spent her entire career covering the plight of the Palestinians in occupied territories, but to the well-trained eyes of those of us Israeli security, we could clearly see a gang of violent would-be terrorists steadily preparing to mount an attack using a large wooden projectile.

“Those of you who do not live with terrorists on your doorstep probably do not realise that coffins are capable of reaching targets several feet from their launch position, and that is a risk we could not take.

“We stand by our actions, and we would willingly do the same again to protect ourselves if face with the same circumstances.”