Israel’s Justice Ministry said on Sunday that two police officers were brought in for questioning following the death of a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli man to death in East Jerusalem.
Israeli police released surveillance video in which the attacker can be seen stabbing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man on Saturday and then trying to stab a border police officer before shooting him and falling to the ground. Police have identified the attacker as a 25-year-old man from Salfit, occupied by the West Bank. Later, the police were seen carrying the body on a stretcher.
A widely circulated video, shot by a bystander, shows an officer of Israel’s paramilitary border police shooting the assailant while he was already lying on the ground, and another shows police with guns Which prevents medics from reaching him, prompting him to call for an investigation. in the possible excessive use of force.
The shooting drew comparisons to a 2016 incident in which an Israeli soldier was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground.
The police investigation unit of the Justice Ministry said police officers were questioned immediately after the incident and released without any conditions.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reiterated his support for the officials’ actions at a meeting of his cabinet on Sunday.
“The officers did an excellent job, as is required of the fighters in such an operational situation,” he said. “They deserve all our support and praise for stopping the killing and acting with operational quick-wittedness within a fraction of a second.”
The incident happened near the Damascus Gate just outside Jerusalem’s Old City, a tense and crowded area that is often the scene of demonstrations and clashes.
The Old City is in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war. Israel does not recognize East Jerusalem internationally and considers the entire city as its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, which would include the West Bank and Gaza.
There have been dozens of attacks in and around the old city in recent years, almost all by individual Palestinians with no ties to armed groups.
Palestinian and Israeli rights groups say security forces sometimes use excessive force in response to attacks, killing suspected attackers who could have been arrested or who posed no immediate threat to security forces.
Rights groups also say Israel rarely holds members of its security forces responsible for the deadly shootings of Palestinians. Investigations often end without charges or soft sentences, and in many cases witnesses are not called for questioning.
Israel says its security forces do everything possible to avoid harm to civilians and that it investigates the alleged abuse.
In the widely publicized 2016 case, Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant who was lying on the ground. Azaria later served two-thirds of his 14-month sentence after being found guilty of reckless murder.
His case sharply divided the Israelis. The military insisted on prosecuting him, saying it violated his code of conduct, while many Israelis, especially those on the nationalist right, defended his actions.
In a recent case, a border police officer was charged with negligent murder in the fatal shooting of an autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City last year.
The indictment came just a year after the shooting of Iyad Hullak, whose family criticized Israel’s murder investigation and demanded much tougher charges. The shooting has drawn comparisons to the police killing of George Floyd in the United States.