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May 31, 2020 11:39 am

Israel Police Probes ‘Rare’ Shooting of Unarmed Palestinian

avatar by JNS.org

Israeli police wearing masks patrol as they enforce a national lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, April 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

JNS.org – The Israel Police has opened an investigation into the officers responsible for the killing over the weekend of an eastern Jerusalem resident with autism.

Iyad Halak, 32, was shot dead by Border Police on Saturday morning while on his way to the special-education institute that he attends daily, according to Hebrew media reports.

In the wake of the incident, the police department announced the launch of an investigation, the initial findings of which reveal that Halak was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Israel Police officers stationed at the Lions’ Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City — the site of multiple Palestinian stabbing and other attempted attacks — told investigators that Halak’s behavior had appeared suspicious. They said that when they called on him to halt, he ran, spurring them to summon the Border Police.

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Two Border Police officers took over the chase, which ended in a nearby garbage room. Attorneys representing one of the men told the press that once their client saw that Halak had been cornered and apprehended, he ordered the other to cease fire. The other suspect in the shooting claims that he did not hear the order.

Following what police referred to as a “rare incident,” newly instated Public Security Minister Amir Ohana responded on social media.

“I share in the pain of the Halak family and express my sorrow over the death of Iyad, a young man with special needs,” he tweeted. “The incident is being investigated as is required by law, and we will act in accordance with the findings, in order to avoid similar incidents [in the future]. Until the end of the probe, we will not pass judgement on the police officers. They are required to make fateful, spur-of-the-moment decisions in an area rife with terrorist attacks, while their lives are frequently in danger.”

The incident comes on the heels of an attempted car-ramming attack against Israeli soldiers in Samaria on Friday, during which the soldiers managed to shoot and kill the Palestinian assailant, and a thwarted stabbing attack against IDF forces — with the use of “sharp agricultural instruments” — last Monday.

These are the latest in a series of violent attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers in recent weeks. Israeli defense officials have warned about the uptick in Palestinian violence following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated aim to begin extending Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria — in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan — as early as July 1.

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