Police in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday morning shot dead a man who they said was “holding a suspicious object that appeared to be a gun.” The man reportedly had special needs and did not understand the officers’ calls to stop.
Hebrew media reported that Iyad Halak, 32, was not armed and was a resident of East Jerusalem.
Police said the man was asked to stop by officers stationed near the Lion’s Gate, the site of multiple attacks in the past, which led to a brief chase on foot. Police fired at the suspect to “neutralize” him during the chase.
Hebrew media reported that Halak had been on his way to a special needs educational institute in the Old City where he studied.
His father told Channel 13 news that police searched the family home after the shooting, despite there being no evidence Halak was armed.
Police have opened an investigation and two Border Police officers were questioned over the shooting.
MK Ofer Cassif of the predominantly-Arab Joint List party responded to the incident, saying that the man’s death was “murder by police” as a result of government incitement.
“The case today in Jerusalem can only be defined as murder by police,” Cassif tweeted. “The incitement from the corridors of the government has done its best and now every Palestinian is a terrorist until proven otherwise.”
Hebrew media reported there were concerns of protests over the young man’s death on Sunday when the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount compound is set to reopen after it was shuttered by the Islamic Waqf along with the Dome of the Rock on March 15 in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The shooting came after Israeli troops on Friday thwarted an attempted car-ramming attack in the northern West Bank, shooting the assailant, the military said. There were no injuries to the soldiers.
The terror suspect was shot and “neutralized” by troops while trying to run them over near the Halamish settlement, the Israel Defense Forces said without giving further details.
Hebrew media reports said the driver, a Palestinian, was killed.
No Israeli soldiers were injured.
There have been a number of attacks and attempted assaults on Israelis and IDF troops in recent weeks, with a top defense official reportedly warning of a potential wave of violence if Israel unilaterally annexes parts of the West Bank.
According to Army Radio, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun — Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians — told army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz that annexation “was likely to lead to a wave of terror attacks.”
Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that his security forces were halting coordination with Israel over the new government’s stated intention to apply sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley.
While Israeli security officials have confirmed the PA has ended security cooperation, Channel 13 reported that Ramallah had sent messages to Israel saying it would not allow terror attacks against Israelis or a mass popular uprising.
Though not widely discussed publicly, Israel’s cooperation with Palestinian security forces has been credited with thwarting many major terror attacks and being a significant factor in the relative calm in the West Bank in recent years.
Security officials have also warned that PA’s economic troubles amid the coronavirus pandemic could also fuel violence in the West Bank.