West Bank – A Palestinian state funeral for a minister who died after being grabbed by the neck by an Israeli policeman at a West Bank protest, drew thousands of mourners on Thursday. The incident has raised tensions with Israel.

To the sounds of drums and bagpipes, Ziad Abu Ein’s Palestinian flag-draped coffin was carried by pallbearers in military uniform along a red carpet at the presidential compound in the city of Ramallah.

The funeral procession then streamed through the streets to a cemetery as people fired in the air. Crowds of men in leather jackets and black-and-white checkered scarves used mobile phones to film the funeral on a cold but sunny afternoon.

His death on Wednesday came at a time of heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians following months of violent unrest in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Palestinian officials in the West Bank have indicated they may call off security coordination with Israel following the incident, though that step appeared unlikely.

“This is a criminal act,” said Samir Tamim, a merchant who attended the funeral.

Hoping to head off any escalation, Israel reinforced troops in the West Bank and Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said he regretted the death of Abu Ein, who was serving a life term in an Israeli jail over a 1979 bombing that killed two Israeli youths when he was released in a prisoner exchange in 1985.