Justice Ministry closes case of East Jerusalem man shot at point-blank range by police after running over soldiers
Relatives claim that Ziad Jilani did not intentionally hit the soldiers.
The widow of a motorist who was shot to death by police in East Jerusalem in June learned yesterday from her lawyer that the Justice Ministry closed its investigation into the case. In a conversation with Haaretz Moira Jilani, a U.S. citizen, expressed shock over the closure of the investigation.
Ziad Jilani was shot after hitting several Israel Defense Forces soldiers. According to a Haaretz investigation several days after the incident, based on statements from several witnesses, after he was shot in the leg and rendered helpless Jilani was shot in the head at close range, while lying on the ground.
Relatives have said they were convinced Jilani did not intentionally hit the soldiers. Justice Ministry investigators said their investigation clearly showed that Border Police officers believed his actions were deliberate, and that they followed proper procedures under such circumstances.
The incident occurred in the Wadi Joz neighborhood, on a Friday. There was a heavy Israeli security presence because of intelligence assessments about potential disturbances in the area after the main weekly Muslim prayer service. Soldiers had just broken up a demonstration and were proceeding on foot in formation when they saw Jilani's truck swerve and head toward the soldiers. After soldiers were hit, security forces shot at Jilani.
He attempted to drive away and the security forces gave chase, shooting at the vehicle. He got out of the truck when its path was blocked. Officers continued chasing Jilani on foot, shooting in his direction. He fell after being shot in the leg, but was then shot again at close range, according to witnesses. They said he was lying on the ground when a police officer approached and shot him in the jaw and the temple. He was taken by ambulance to Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, where he was pronounced dead.
The Justice Ministry began investigating immediately, taking witness statements, reenacting the incident and inspecting security camera footage from the area. Six days after Jilani's burial his family agreed to an autopsy. It was conducted two weeks after the burial.
With regard to the allegation that Jilani was shot a second time at close range, investigators said the following: "That fact became known only during the course of the investigation and the [Border Police officer] who fired acknowledged this [although not at the beginning]."
The Justice Ministry's investigation unit said there was insufficient evidence to support criminal charges against the officer, based on a determination that he was not acting out of concern for his safety and to "attribute criminal responsibility to a mistake, however grave, in judgment." After consultations with the State Prosecutor's Office it was decided to close the case for insufficient evidence, the Justice Ministry's investigation unit said, adding it was possible that Jilani's conduct was not deliberate and that he did not intend to run over the security officials.
Family members said yesterday they are considering their next moves. Jilani was 39 at the time of his death.