The family of an unarmed autistic Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli police have called for a probe into an alleged absence of footage in a heavily monitored part of Jerusalem where the man was killed, media reported on Tuesday.
On May 30, Israeli police officers shot and killed a Palestinian man with severe mental disability in East Jerusalem. Soon after the murder of Iyad Khairi Hallaq, 32, Israeli reports suggested that the autistic man was carrying a “suspicious object that looked like a pistol.”
Later, it was claimed, also by Israeli sources, that Hallaq was carrying a toy gun. However, according to eyewitnesses, when Hallaq was shot and fell on the ground, he was merely holding his gloves and a face mask.
After the officers followed Hallaq into a garbage room in Jerusalem’s Old City, they fired several fatal shots at the frightened man as he was lay on the floor.
His family called on Israeli officials to release the film from a camera installed in the garbage room where the disabled man was shot dead, saying that footage was being kept hidden.
The Israeli justice ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department said Monday that Hallaq’s parents and their lawyers met with investigators for an update on their son’s case, according to The Times of Israel.
During the meeting, Hallaq’s parents were told that all relevant security footage was gathered immediately after the incident but claimed that cameras inside the garbage room were not working at the time.
The Palestinian man’s family subsequently called for a probe into the absence of footage of his killing.
Hallak’s father Khairi told Haaretz that the family “did not understand anything” from the meeting.
“We were told there were cameras but they did not work,” he said. “Every passing day we feel worse than the day before. We haven’t left the house in 40 days. You cannot imagine how hard it is.”
The family’s attorney told Haaretz they are “very surprised” that there is no footage from the garbage room.
“Our request is to open a very in-depth investigation into whether evidence has been concealed,” he said. “Because it is not possible that cameras were placed there and yet there is no documentation. We have a very strong suspicion that [the police] are concealing evidence in this case.”
In its statement, the Police Internal Investigations Department said the investigation is in “very advanced stages” and upon completion will be passed to prosecutors who will decide whether the officers involved will be charged.
Haaretz found that there are at least ten private and security cameras in the 150 meters between the Old City’s Lions Gate – where Israeli police began chasing Hallak – and the garbage room where the killing took place.
“The killing of Palestinian civilians is a regular occurrence. It is the devastating routine with which Palestinians have been forced to co-exist for many years and for which Israel was never ever held accountable,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud wrote in a recent article.
“All of this is taking place in the complete absence of any promising political horizon. Even the protracted and ultimately useless ‘peace process’ has been halted in favor of greater American backing of Israel and of the Israeli government’s mad rush to expand illegal Jewish settlements,” Baroud added.
Source: The Palestine Chronicle