Israeli prosecutors on Thursday charged a border police officer with reckless homicide in the deadly shooting of a autistic Palestinian man in the Old City of Jerusalem last year.
The accusation came just 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 harsher accusations.
The officer, who remains unidentified in the indictment submitted to the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday, was charged with reckless homicide, and if convicted could serve up to 12 years in prison.
Hallaq, 32, he was killed just inside the Old City Lion’s Gate on May 30, 2020, which was on its way to the institution for the special needs it attended. The office commander, who was also present during the incident, was not charged.
The area is a frequent location of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, and the narrow streets of the Old City are lined with hundreds of security cameras being monitored by police. But when the investigation was launched last summer, prosecutors said none of the cameras in the area had worked, and there was no footage of the incident.
Prosecutors from the police internal investigation department said in a statement that the decision to appoint the officer “was taken after a thorough examination of the evidence, an examination of all the circumstances of the incident and the claims heard. during the hearing of the officer “.
They said Hallaq’s death was a “serious and unfortunate incident” and the officer shot him “while he risked without reason that he would cause his death.”
According to accounts from the era, Hallaq was shot after fleeing and failing to heed the calls to plant. Two members of the Israeli paramilitary border police then chased Hallaq into a sweeping room and shot him while he was standing next to a bin.
The justice minister said in a statement in October, when prosecutors dismissed the charges against the officer, the injured Hallaq pointed out a woman he knew and whispered something. Then the officer turned to the woman and asked in Arabic, “Where’s the gun?”
She replied, “What gun?” At this point, the investigating officer fired back at Hallaq.
The woman mentioned in the statement appears to be Hallaq’s teacher, who was with him that morning. At the time of the shooting, he told an Israeli TV station that he had repeatedly called police that he was “disabled.”
In the indictment filed Thursday, prosecutors described how the defendant shot Hallaq in the stomach when he had his spine against a wall at an angle, then shot him a second time in the chest while Hallaq was shot in the chest. injured ground.
Hallaq’s family was not immediately available for comment, but had previously expressed concern that the killing would be whitewashed, especially after the camera’s malfunction.
In case of attacks against Israeli security forces, the police often quickly release to the public security camera footage. Palestinians and human rights groups say Israel has a bad history of prosecuting cases of police violence against Palestinians.
Ayman Odeh, head of the Common List of Arab Parties in the Israeli parliament, responded on Twitter, calling the charge of reckless homicide “an infuriating and degrading accusation.”
Hallaq’s shooting made comparisons with the assassination of George Floyd in the United States and sparked a series of small demonstrations against police violence. The riot crossed Israeli-Palestinian lines and also attracted Jewish protesters. Israeli leaders have expressed displeasure at the killing.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian health minister said Thursday that a Palestinian teenager who was killed by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank a day earlier has died from his injuries.
Ahmad Shamsa, 15, died of a gunshot wound Wednesday. He was the fourth Palestinian killed in protests near the Evyatar installation post last month, as protesters threw stones at Israeli troops, who responded by firing live ammunition and tear gas.
Earlier Wednesday, the Israeli army fired and he killed a Palestinian woman who said he tried to break into his car in a group of soldiers guarding a construction site in the West Bank. The family of Mai Afanah, 29, insisted she had no reason or ability to carry out an attack.