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Condolences from Netanyahu, a week after police kill autistic Palestinian

June 7, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Rana Hallaq, mother of autistic Palestinian man Eyad Hallaq (32), who were killed by Israeli police in East Jerusalem, at the Old City’s Lions’ Gate on May 30 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency]

More than a week after Israeli police shot dead an unarmed and autistic Palestinian in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called the killing a tragedy and offered his condolences to the family, reported Reuters.

Eyad Hallaq, 32, was killed during a police chase in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 30. A police spokesman said at the time officers suspected he was carrying a weapon.

The police internal affairs division is investigating the shooting. The police officer who shot Hallaq has been released from custody and placed under house arrest.

“What happened to Eyad Hallaq is a tragedy. This was a man with disabilities, autism, who was suspected – and we (now) know wrongly – of being a terrorist in a very sensitive venue,” Netanyahu said in comments that stopped short of an apology.

Palestinians have drawn comparisons between the Palestinian man’s fatal encounter with police and the death in the United States of African-American George Floyd after a police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee into his neck while detaining him.

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

Eyad Hallaq was shot twice in the chest on last 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.”

Hundreds of people attended Hallaq’s funeral a week ago.

Read: Israel policeman who killed disabled Palestinian released

Palestinian officials and Hallaq’s family said he suffered from severe autism and panicked and ran after the officers confronted him.

“I know that (police) are conducting examinations. We all share in the grief of the family,” Netanyahu said in public remarks to his cabinet.

Addressing Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana, who is responsible for police, at the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said: “I expect your full investigation into this matter.”

A police spokesman could not immediately be reached on Sunday to provide information on whether any action had been taken so far against the officers.

At last week’s cabinet session, Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s centrist partner in Israel’s new unity government, publicly apologised for Hallaq’s death. The right-wing Netanyahu, sitting next to him, kept silent at the time.

Read: Why did the Israeli police kill a Palestinian with special needs?