Reprinted from Gush Shalom
On the fateful day, the police were confronting a group of young Arabs protesting against the Israeli efforts to change the status quo on the Temple Mount (known to Muslims as "the Noble Sanctuary"). Such demonstrations were taking place that day in many Arab towns and villages all over Israel, and especially in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to the first police statement, the 22-year old Arab, Kheir a-Din Hamdan, attacked the police with a knife. In self defense, they had no choice but to shoot and kill him.
As so often with police reports, this was a pack of lies.
UNFORTUNATELY (for the police), the incident was recorded by security cameras. The pictures clearly showed Hamdan approaching a police car and beating on its windows with something, possibly a knife. When he saw that this had no effect, Hamdan turned around and started to walk away.
At that moment, the policemen got out of the car and immediately started to shoot at the back of Hamdan, who was hit and fell to the ground. The officers surrounded him and, after some hesitation, obviously a consultation between them, started to drag the wounded youngster on the ground towards the patrol car, as if he were a sack of potatoes. They dumped him on the floor of the car and drove away (to a hospital, it appears), with their feet on or near the dying man.
The pictures show clearly, for everyone to see, that the policemen violated the standing police orders for opening fire: they were in no immediate mortal danger, they did not shout a warning, they did not shoot first in the air, they did not aim at the lower part of his body. They did not call an ambulance. The youngster bled to death. It was a cold-blooded execution.
There was an outcry. Arab citizens rioted in many places. Under pressure, the Police Investigation board (which belongs to the Ministry of Justice) started an investigation. The first investigation already uncovered several facts which put an even more severe face on the incident.
It appeared that before the cameras caught the scene, the police had arrested Hamdan's cousin and put him into the car. Obviously, Kheir a-Din wanted to release the cousin and therefore beat on the car. The cousin saw him being shot and dumped on the floor of the car in which he was sitting.
The first reaction of the police command was to justify the behavior of the policemen, whose names and faces were withheld. They were spirited away to some other police unit.
I DESCRIBE the incident at length, not because it is unique but on the contrary -- because it is so typical. What was special about it was only the unnoticed presence of the camera.
Several cabinet ministers lauded the exemplary behavior of the police in this incident. This can be dismissed as the publicity-hunting of extreme right-wing demagogues, who believe that their voters approve of all and any shooting of Arabs. They should know.
However, one statement cannot be ignored: the one made by the Minister of Home Security.
A few days before the incident, Minister Yitzhak Aharonowitz, a protege of Avigdor Lieberman and himself a former police officer, declared publicly that he did not want any terrorist to survive after an attack.
That is a manifestly illegal statement. Indeed, it is a call for crimes. Under the law, policemen are not allowed to shoot "terrorists" or anybody else after they are taken prisoner, especially when they are wounded and do not present any "mortal danger."