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Israel killed autistic Palestinian who ‘didn’t know what soldiers are’

June 2, 2020 at 2:32 pm

The mother of Eyad Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian man was killed by Israeli forces in Jerusalem on 30 May 2020 [We Are Not Numbers #Gaza/Twitter]

Israeli forces killed an autistic Palestinian man in spite of his carer’s pleas for them not to because of his disability.

Eyad Hallaq was shot twice in the chest on Saturday after he ran away in a panic after he heard Israeli officers yelling.

His carer, Warda Abu Hadid, frantically tried to alert the soldiers that Hallaq was severely autistic and didn’t understand, but her warnings fell on deaf ears.

She recalled shouting: “He’s disabled, disabled! Wait a moment, take his ID card, check his ID.”

“Suddenly they fired three bullets at him, in front of my eyes, Don’t shoot him. They didn’t listen; they didn’t want to hear.”

READ: Hamas spokesman condemns killing of Floyd, Eyad Hallaq

Hallaq was diagnosed with low-functioning autism when he was a child, and had trouble communicating with people.

His cousin, Dr Hatem Awiwi said: “He didn’t absorb things; he didn’t have the knowledge that there even was another side. He didn’t know what a soldier is or what a weapon is. He saw a stranger and fled, and then they shot him.”

“He didn’t even know there was such a thing as Jews and Arabs in this country.”

Hallaq had been given special documentation by a rehabilitation centre he had attended for the past six years explaining his disability so he could prove his condition to Israeli forces, as he was unable to explain his autism himself.

Although Defence Minister Benny Gantz has apologised and said that the matter would be investigated “swiftly” and “conclusions would be reached”, human rights organisation B’Tselem has said that justice is “unlikely”.

READ: Israel policeman who killed disabled Palestinian released

Comparisons with the racially-motivated murder of black US citizen George Floyd by police have been drawn with Hallaq’s death, with photos of Palestinians having their necks crushed by Israeli soldiers – in the same way that Floyd was suffocated – circulating on social media.