NewsJustice in Israel acquits a policeman who shot dead a Palestinian with...

    Justice in Israel acquits a policeman who shot dead a Palestinian with autism

    An Israeli court acquitted a police officer on Thursday accused of involuntary manslaughter for the murder of a Palestinian man unarmed with autism in Jerusalem, a case that sparked Palestinian outrage and focused attention on the treatment of Palestinians by Israeli police.

    The man, Iyad al-Hallaq, 31 years oldwas shot dead by an Israeli police officer in the Old City of Jerusalem in May 2020 while walking to the special needs school where he studied. His death immediately drew comparisons to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneolis police officer just days before.

    But the judge qualified the murder as an “honest mistake” because the officer, whose name the courts they prohibited to publishconfused al-Hallaq with an armed terrorist.

    Khairi al-Hallaq, the father of the victim, said his family was shocked by the ruling.

    Rana Hallaq mother of Eyad, in her home in East Jerusalem. Photo: AP

    “The court basically told the police: do what you want with the Arabs. They will not be punished for that,” he said.

    Police are rarely held accountable

    Critics say Israeli police are rarely held accountable for allegations of abuseespecially when they involve Palestinians. A report by the comptroller of the state of Israel in May found that the 1.2% of complaints against officers in 2021 resulted in criminal charges.

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    Israeli prosecutors charged with handling complaints against the police force say that face significant obstacles to convict officers, such as the reluctance of their peers, often the only witnesses to a police action, to speak to them and the judges who deference to security forces.

    Still, right-wing Israeli politicians claim that existing policies have tied the hands of police officers, hampering their ability to fight crime. Israel’s hardline national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir campaigned to relax regulations on open fire and protect security forces from criminal prosecution.

    A mural in Jerusalem of Iyad al-Hallaq.  Photo: Dan Balilty for The New York Times

    A mural in Jerusalem of Iyad al-Hallaq. Photo: Dan Balilty for The New York Times

    In her ruling on Thursday, Judge Chana Lomp of the Jerusalem District Court characterized al-Hallaq’s death as “the horrible loss of a young man loved by his family”. But the Israeli police officer who killed al-Hallaq, a 19 year old rookie at the time, he believed he was acting in self-defense in a tense area that had often seen attacks on Israelis, Lomp wrote.

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    “An Honest Mistake”

    “He made an honest mistake that an armed terrorist was in front of himwho posed a substantial threat,” he said, adding that the officer was forced to make a split-second decision on whether to shoot al-Hallaq.

    The officer’s attorney, Efrat Nahmani-Bar, called the ruling “a total exoneration”.

    Court decision shows that Israeli courts handle cases of alleged abuses against Palestinians “with disdain for the basic value of life”Aida Touma-Sliman, a Palestinian lawmaker in Israel’s Parliament, wrote on Twitter.

    A tragedy “without culprits”

    Prominent Israeli politicians expressed regret over al-Hallaq’s death — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a tragedy” — though some said the officer should not be blamed for the killing.

    Frog kisses the photo of his son.  Photo: AP

    Frog kisses the photo of his son. Photo: AP

    Still, the signs with the face of al-Hallaq became commonplace in anti-government protestswith protesters calling for “justice for Iyad”.

    State prosecutors indicted the officer who shot al-Hallaq on reckless homicide charges a year later. Al-Hallaq’s family said the charges did not go far enough, arguing that if al-Hallaq had been Jewish, his shooter would have been charged with murder.

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    If convicted, the police officer could have faced up to 12 years in prison.

    The day of the events

    The day he was assassinated, al-Hallaq had entered the Old City, where engaged in “behavior that aroused suspicion” from police officers, Lomp said. The officers gave chase and asked him to stop, prosecutors said.

    The officers cornered al-Hallaq in a garbage storage area, where the officer shot him in the lower body, according to court documents.

    Al-Hallaq fell to the ground and the officer’s commander ordered the shooting to stop, prosecutors said. Al-Hallaq’s teacher, who also arrived at the scene, said that she shouted in Hebrew that he was disabled and posed no threat.

    But after al-Hallaq made a move, the officer fired a second time to the upper part of al-Hallaq’s body, killing him as he lay on the groundthe prosecutors said.

    The officer’s lawyers successfully argued that the decision to shoot al-Hallaq was within accepted procedure, as even wounded assailants could still pose a threat, Nahmani-Bar said.

    c.2023 The New York Times Company

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    Source: Clarin

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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