Israeli police questioned the shooting of Palestinian assailants

Tel Aviv, Israel (AP)-The Israeli Ministry of Justice said on Sunday that after a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli man in East Jerusalem was shot and killed, two police officers were taken for questioning.

Surveillance video released by the Israeli police showed that the assailant stabbed the ultra-Orthodox Jewish man on Saturday and then tried to stab a border policeman. He was shot dead and fell to the ground. The police confirmed that the attacker was a 25-year-old man from Salfit in the occupied West Bank. Later, the police could be seen carrying the body on a stretcher.

A widely circulated video taken by a bystander appeared to show that an Israeli paramilitary border police officer shot the assailant while he was already lying on the ground. Another segment appeared to show that the police pulled out the gun to prevent medical personnel from approaching him. This has prompted calls for investigations into possible excessive use of force.

This shooting is on par with an incident in 2016, when an Israeli soldier was filmed by a camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker lying on the ground.

The police investigation team of the Ministry of Justice stated that shortly after the incident, the police were interrogated and released unconditionally.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement in support of these officials. Other leaders also defended their actions.

“It is unclear whether terrorists have explosive belts. All kinds of things can happen,” Omer Barlev, the Minister of Public Safety who oversees the police, told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. “Their behavior is correct.”

The incident took place near the Damascus Gate outside the Old City of Jerusalem, a tense and crowded area, often the scene of demonstrations and conflicts.

The Old City is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied along with the West Bank and Gaza during the 1967 war. Israel annexed East Jerusalem, a move that was not recognized internationally and regarded the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future countries, including the West Bank and Gaza.

In recent years, dozens of attacks have occurred in the Old City and its surrounding areas, almost all of which were carried out by Palestinians who have no known ties to armed groups.

Palestinians and Israeli human rights organizations say that security forces sometimes use excessive force to respond to attacks, killing suspected assailants who could have been arrested or did not directly threaten the security forces.

Human rights groups also stated that Israel rarely holds members of its security forces responsible for fatal Palestinian shootings. Investigations usually end with no charges or light penalties, and in many cases, witnesses are not called for questioning.

Israel stated that its security forces are doing everything possible to avoid harm to civilians and to investigate alleged abuses.

In the well-known 2016 case, Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was captured by the camera filming a Palestinian attacker who was wounded lying on the ground. Azaria was later convicted of reckless manslaughter and served two-thirds of his 14-month sentence.

His case caused strong divisions among the Israelis. The military pushed for prosecution against him, claiming that he violated his moral code, and many Israelis, especially the nationalist right-wingers, defended his actions.

In a recent case, a border policeman was charged with reckless manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Palestinian man with autism in the Old City of Jerusalem last year.

The indictment was filed more than a year after Eyad Hallaq was shot and killed. His family criticized Israel’s investigation into the killing and demanded more severe charges. This shooting is on par with the killing of George Floyd by the American police.

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