Israeli officer charged in killing of autistic Palestinian
Published: 09:36 PM, 17 June 2021
A mural depicting Eyad Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli police in Jerusalem`s Old City last year; Photo: AP
Israel on Thursday charged a police officer with “reckless homicide” for shooting dead an unarmed Palestinian man with autism in Jerusalem’s Old City last year, the justice ministry said.
Iyad Hallak, 32, was killed in May 2020 while walking to his special needs school in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, after officers mistakenly thought he was “armed”, reports france24.
Hallak’s family has said he had the mental age of an eight-year-old, and witnesses said Hallak panicked after being shouted at by police.
Hallak reportedly ran, triggering a chase, with police firing at his legs.
Police said they thought Hallak was reaching for a pistol when he was actually looking for his phone in his pocket.
“Although Iyad was on the ground and wounded as a result of the first shot, and held nothing in his hands, and did nothing to justify it, the suspect shot toward the upper part of Iyad's body,” the case statement read.
His funeral drew thousands of mourners, while online the hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter echoed the fury of mass protests against police violence and racism in the United States.
The justice ministry last year said the officer had not “followed police rules” for opening fire, and that Hallak had “posed no danger to police or civilians at the scene”.
The officer, who has not been named, faces a sentence of up to 12 years if found guilty.
At the time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Hallak’s death a “war crime” and an “execution”, while Israel’s then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his death a “tragedy”. -– AFP