The Shoafat checkpoint terminal in East Jerusalem.
The Shoafat checkpoint terminal in East Jerusalem. Photo by Michal Fattal
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An East Jerusalem man was charged yesterday in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court with causing the death of an illegal worker he was trying to smuggle from the Palestinian Authority areas into Israel six weeks ago.

The worker, who was shot and wounded by border policeman at a roadblock, subsequently died of his wounds.

The incident occurred at the end of July. According to the charge sheet, the accused, Jaber Hamada, 22, of Ras al-Amud, was driving along the road that connects Ma’aleh Adumim with Jerusalem, carrying with him in his van several laborers who do not have permits to work in Israel. To reach Israeli territory he had to cross the Al-Aza’im checkpoint, near the village of the same name.

According to the indictment, the border policemen at the checkpoint signaled him to stop for a routine security check. When he saw that the policemen wanted him to stop, Hamada made a sharp U-turn in an effort to flee into the village of Al-Aza’im.

Sgt. Major Baruch Nahmias, the investigator on the case for the Judea and Samaria Police, said that while trying to flee, Jabar tried to run over the policemen and security guards at the checkpoint.

The policemen signaled him to stop, but he continued driving, the indictment said. The policemen and security guards thus fired on the fleeing vehicle. Hamada and two of the Palestinians with him were wounded.

According to the indictment, Hamada stopped his vehicle, pulled the wounded men out of it and laid them at the side of the road, then continued to speed ahead.

The two wounded men were evacuated to Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, where one of them died.

The Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers probed the incident, and found that the policemen involved had acted properly.

Police, searching for the driver, found that Hamada was the registered owner of the vehicle and that he had sought medical care at Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. Several days after the incident he was arrested at one of the checkpoints around Jerusalem.

Hamada denied all the allegations, saying that not only wasn’t he driving the vehicle, he wasn’t in it during the incident. When asked how he had been wounded, he claimed he had been standing at the side of the road and was in the line of fire.

But Nahmias told the court that the son of the deceased worker, who often accompanied his father in the attempts to sneak into Israel, identified Hamada in a line-up and confirmed that Hamada had smuggled them into Israel several times so they could find work.

Hamada’s lawyer, attorney David Amar, noted that no one could confirm that Hamada had been driving the vehicle during the incident. But during the remand hearing last Wednesday, Judge Yitzhak Shimoni noted that Hamada had given three contradictory versions of what had happened on the day in question, including a claim that he couldn’t have been driving the vehicle because he’d sold it, which was disproved by the police.

Hamada was thus charged yesterday with attempted smuggling of illegal workers and causing death by negligence.