Israeli officer charged with murder of autistic Palestinian

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Israeli officer charged with murder of autistic Palestinian


Israeli prosecutors on Thursday charged a border police officer with manslaughter in the shooting death of an autistic Palestinian in Jerusalem’s Old City last year.
The indictment came a little over a year after the shooting of Eyad Hallaq. Hallaq’s family had previously criticized the Israeli authorities’ investigation into his murder and called for much tougher charges.

The officer, who is still not identified in the indictment filed Thursday in the Jerusalem District Court, has been charged with manslaughter and if found guilty he could face up to 12 years in prison.

Hallaq, 32, was shot and killed just inside the Old City’s Lion Gate on May 30, 2020, while on his way to the special needs institution he attended. The officer’s commanding officer, who was also present during the incident, has not been charged.

The area is a frequent site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, and the narrow streets of the Old City are lined with hundreds of security cameras monitored by police. But as the investigation continued last summer, prosecutors claimed none of the cameras in the area worked and there was no footage of the incident.

Prosecutors from the Police Internal Investigations Department said in a statement that the decision to charge the officer “was made after a careful review of the evidence, a review of all the circumstances of the incident and the allegations heard during the incident. of the hearing of the officer ”.

They said Hallaq’s death was a “grave and unfortunate incident” and the officer shot him “while taking an unreasonable risk of causing his death”.

According to accounts at the time, Hallaq was shot dead after fleeing and not answering calls to stop. Two members of Israel’s paramilitary border police then chased Hallaq into a trash can and shot him as he curled up next to a trash can.

The Justice Department said in a statement in October, when prosecutors recommended charges against the officer, the injured Hallaq pointed at a woman he knew and muttered something. The officer then turned to the woman and asked her in Arabic: “Where is the weapon?

She replied, “What weapon? At that point, the investigated officer shot Hallaq again.

The woman mentioned in the statement appears to be Hallaq’s teacher, who was with him that morning. At the time of the shooting, she told an Israeli television station that she had repeatedly called the police that he was “disabled”.

In charges filed Thursday, prosecutors described how the accused shot Hallaq in the stomach with his back against a wall in a corner, then shot him a second time in the chest while Hallaq was lying on the floor injured.

Hallaq’s family were not immediately available for comment, but had previously expressed fears that the murder was whitewashed, especially after the alleged camera malfunction.

In cases of attacks on Israeli security forces, police often quickly broadcast footage from security cameras to the public. Palestinians and human rights groups say Israel has a poor record in prosecuting cases of police violence against Palestinians.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List of Arab Parties in the Israeli parliament, responded on Twitter, calling the indictment of manslaughter “a maddening and disparaging charge.”

The Hallaq shooting drew comparisons to the murder of George Floyd in the United States and sparked a series of small protests against police violence. The uproar crossed Israeli-Palestinian lines and also drew Jewish protesters. Israeli leaders have expressed regret for the murder.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry said on Thursday that a Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank the day before has died of his injuries.

Ahmad Shamsa, 15, died on Wednesday from a gunshot wound. He was the fourth Palestinian killed during protests near the Evyatar settlement outpost last month, as protesters threw stones at Israeli troops, who retaliated with live ammunition and gas tear gas.

Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF shot dead a Palestinian woman who she said tried to crash her car into a group of soldiers guarding a construction site in the West Bank. The family of Mai Afanah, 29, insisted that they had no reason or capacity to carry out an attack.



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