A 32-year-old Palestinian man with special needs has died after he was shot by border police while on his way to his special needs school.
The death of Iyad al-Halak has sparked outrage. He was killed on Saturday, May 30, in east Jerusalem, Isreal Police said in a statement.
According to the statement, police officers who were stationed near Jerusalem’s Lion’s Gate noticed a young man holding a “suspicious object” that they said looked like a gun, and told him to stop. However, the man began to flee.
Border Police were called by Jerusalem policemen to help them chase the man on foot. During the chase, two of the border policemen fired at him, resulting in his death.
After the chase, police searched the area for the “suspicious object,” which was allegedly in the man’s hand, but found nothing.
Following the incident, the gates to the Old City were closed by Jerusalem police, in fear of protests.
According to The Jerusalem Post, the initial investigation by the Police Investigation Department revealed that one of the border patrol officers shot towards Iyad’s lower body during the chase, but missed, and the other shot him after their pursuit reached a dead end alleyway. The two are being investigated on suspicion of causing death by negligence.
The two border policemen laid the blame for the misunderstanding on the Jerusalem police officers who initiated the chase. They claimed that the “blue cops” who had started the pursuit had told them that it was a terrorist and that they were convinced that the fugitive Palestinian was indeed planning to carry out an attack, the publication added.
One of the border police officers suspected of shooting Halak was released later Saturday afternoon and placed on house arrest, according to The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv.
The lawyer of the deceased, Gad Kadmani, said: “This is a murder, and this is not the first time this has happened. The case needs to be thoroughly investigated. Eight bullets were fired at him, there are cameras that recorded everything.”
The Israel Police Department released a statement later on Saturday in reaction to the incident.
“Unfortunately, we have witnessed blatant and irresponsible generalizations from public and government figures on both police and the Border Police who work day and night for the safety and security of all Israeli civilians.
The role and mission of police forces in Jerusalem, and especially the Old City, is a complex task, and involves complex decision making, sacrifice and risking of one’s life,” Israel Police wrote in a press release in response to the shooting.
“In the past few years, including recently, we have witnessed a number of brutal attempts to harm and kill police and Border Police in the Old City and its surrounding areas. Although most of these attacks were unsuccessful, due to the alertness of the police and their quick and professional responses, some of those attempts were successful and took lives," the Police added.
"This morning’s case was transferred to the Department of Police Investigations to be examined and investigated. It is appropriate to wait for the results of the investigation’s findings before drawing any conclusions, and to avoid the ugliness and wrongful outbursts of commentary on those who put protecting the citizens of Israel in front of the their own lives.”