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An emotional and mostly peaceful ceremony

Thousands lined the route of the funeral procession  

By Paul Sussman for CNN

JERUSALEM -- The funeral cortege of Faisal Husseini started in Ramallah in the morning and made its way slowly southwards to Jerusalem.

On a hot, humid day thousands of mourners lined the 16 kilometer route to pay their last respects to one of the most admired and popular of Palestinian leaders.

"It is a great loss," said Isra Muzzaffar, 23. "Everyone is deeply affected.

"It is very hard to find someone who can combine the power of intellect with devotion to a cause.

"I saw the plane bringing his body back from Kuwait land in Ramallah. People were weeping."


CNN's Jerrold Kessel: Husseini was one of the most important Palestinian leaders

AIFF or WAV sound

On arrival in Jerusalem the cortege, made up of people of all ages, many of them waving the Palestinian national flag and carrying pictures of Husseini, stopped at Orient House, the Jerusalem headquarters of the Palestinian National Authority, where Husseini had had his office.

The grounds of the house were crammed with mourners, held back by rows of Palestinian scouts in red and beige uniforms -- Palestinian police and soldiers are not allowed into Jerusalem.

Many young men in black T-shirts bearing the logo of the Fatah Youth Movement were also present to help control the mass of people.

On a terrace in front of the house were arranged Palestinian dignitaries, foreign diplomats, Druze elders and representatives of various different Christian denominations.

There were a number of Israelis present as well. One, Professor Moshe Amirav, an associate of Husseini and former policy adviser to Yitzhak Shamir and Ehud Barak, had earlier made a speech praising his former friend, which the crowd had greeted with polite applause.

As the coffin -- draped in the Palestinian national flag -- was carried into the grounds of Orient House and up the steps onto the front terrace, mourners surged forward, trying to touch the wooden side and shouting Faisal Husseini's name.

The atmosphere was charged, chaotic and emotional, yet peaceful. Several people passed out and had to be carried away to waiting ambulances.

The cortege remained in the house for 20 minutes, and then proceeded down towards Jerusalem's Old City, where Husseini was to be buried in the Al Haram Al Sharif (Temple Mount) complex alongside his father, the latter also renowned for his devotion to the Palestinian cause.

As the crowd passed through the Damascus Gate into the narrow streets of the Old City, chanting Fatah slogans and waving flags, their voices magnified by the high walls to either side, there were sporadic outbursts of violence.

Israeli security cameras were particular targets  

Israeli security cameras, attached to wall brackets on every street corner, were particular targets, with young men and boys clambering up and smashing their lenses and ripping them from the walls.

Israeli police and troops, who had tried to keep a low profile, fired tear gas at one particular group of Palestinian youths.

The narrow streets quickly filled with a corrosive mist which left a peppery taste on the tongue and made your eyes water and lungs burn.

Several people collapsed, eyes weeping, gasping for air, before they were lifted up and carried away by their friends.

At one point I tried to take a picture of a young boy attacking a camera. Immediately I was surrounded by a crowd of teenagers shouting "No Photo!"

One raised his fist at me and shouted "I Hamas! You understand!"

As soon as I explained I was English, however, and not an Israeli, their anger dissipated. The one who had raised his fist at me apologised meekly.

Inside the vast Al Haram al Sharif complex, where ambulances were waiting to tend to those affected by tear gas, the crowd spread out to listen to speeches by various Palestinian officials.

A group of boys, stripped to the waist and with scarves wrapped around their faces, erected a ladder alongside the Dome of the Rock.

Clambering onto the mosque roof, beneath the vast golden dome, they draped an enormous Palestinian flag over the side of the building and stood with arms aloft, fingers making the victory sign. A crowd down below cheered and applauded them.

Mourners reach the edge of Jerusalem  

Elsewhere a group of children began hammering on the closed metal shutters of an Arab police station, but were quickly shooed away by Palestinian officials.

Another group of boys collected rocks, presumably to throw at police. Again, they were chastised by Palestinian officials, who made them put down the rocks and move away.

As afternoon turned into evening, the crowd gradually drifted away. Outside the Lion Gate in the south-west corner of the walled city, a group of young boys attacked an (empty) Israeli police post, smashing the windows with an iron bar and starting a fire inside.

The attack lasted for five minutes before there was a sudden shout from up the street and some 50 Israeli police and soldiers came running down the narrow cobbled thoroughfare.

The Palestinian youths scattered.

• Palestinian National Authority
• Palestinian Red Crescent
• Israel Defense Forces
• Israeli Prime Minister

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