Israeli court acquits officer of murdering autistic Palestinian

AFP , Thursday 6 Jul 2023

An Israeli court on Thursday acquitted an Israeli police officer of recklessly killing an unarmed Palestinian man with autism in Jerusalem's Old City.

Iyad Hallak
Rana Hallak holds photos of her son, Iyad, in their home in Wadi Joz, a Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem Thursday, July 6 2023. AP


Iyad Hallak, 32, was shot dead in May 2020  in a series of escalations while walking near a border police position in east Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem district court said the police officer was "acquitted" of "reckless homicide", in a decision decried by Hallak's mother as "injustice".

The chain of events leading to the autistic's murder began when officers approached him and yelled at him to stop, causing Hallak to run away, the court added.

Hallak's family had said he had the mental age of an eight-year-old, and witnesses said he panicked after being shouted at by police.

The police officer in question joined the chase and another officer shot towards the Palestinian's legs but missed, the court found.

Hallak then entered an alley, where the accused officer shot and hit him in the leg.

Hallak then stood up and pointed at a woman he knew who had rushed to the scene, prompting the Israeli officer to fatally shoot him in the chest.

His mother, Rana Hallak, told AFP after the verdict was pronounced: "My son is now in the grave and his killer is relaxing and going out and having a good time, and this is a particular injustice."

"(Iyad) created a special atmosphere within the family," she added, sitting beside portraits of her son.

The officer was charged over Hallak's murder in June 2021.

Israel's justice ministry said the previous October that he had not followed police rules for opening fire, and that Hallak had "posed no danger to police or civilians at the scene".

At the time, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called Hallak's death a "war crime" and an "execution", while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a "tragedy".

His funeral drew thousands of mourners, while online hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter echoed the fury of mass protests against police violence and racism in the United States.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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