Police Officer Caught on Film Shooting at Palestinian in East Jerusalem Gas Station

Officer claims he opened fire on Mahmoud Abu Sneina after being threatened with a screwdriver; Abu Sneina denies this.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

A plain-clothed Israel Police officer was caught on film shooting at a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem last Monday, following an apparent argument between the two.

The officer said he opened fire on Mahmoud Abu Sneina, after the latter threatened him with a screwdriver. Abu Sneina, however, claims he was not even in possession of a screwdriver at the time of the incident.

Abu Sneina was arrested and freed on bail Thursday morning, charged with assaulting a police officer with cold steel, possession of a knife and threats.

According to police, Abu Sneina tried to attack the officer with a screwdriver after an argument between the two at a gas station in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. The police officer fired a warning shot in the air and then shot Abu Sneina in the leg. Police further claim that Abu Sneina then took the screwdriver and escaped.

Abu Sneina says the only object he was holding at the time was his keys. Furthermore, he says he did not understand that the man was a police officer, since the latter only identified himself as a policeman after the shooting.

Abu Sneina says that he collapsed shortly after he drove away, not far from the scene of the event. A passing driver took him to a Ramallah hospital, fearing that he would be detained. A medical document obtained by Haaretz states that Abu Sneina was wounded by a "live bullet." Abu Sneina returned to Israel on Wednesday and turned himself in, after lodging a complaint with the Police Investigation Unit.

Footage from the security cameras in the gas station shows Abu Sneina driving around the officer's car, which was parked in the middle of the path. Abu Sneina is then seen stopping suddenly and walking toward the policeman. Apparently, that is when the argument between the two began.

The two were out of the cameras' range for a few minutes, after which the policeman can be seen chasing Abu Sneina. Several seconds later, the policeman is seen with his gun, while the two are still arguing. Later the officer is seen shooting in the direction of Abu Sneina's thigh.

The footage does not show the officer making any effort to arrest Abu Sneina. Although the officer said that Abu Sneina tried to flee, the footage shows that he remained in the gas station area for a further two minutes. Later the policeman is seen picking something up from the floor – Abu Sneina's relatives say it was the bullet casing.

Jerusalem police say that an initial investigation indicates that the officer acted properly, but the case has nevertheless been brought to the internal Police Investigation Unit for further examination.

The Police Investigation Unit has not yet issued a response to the incident.

Screenshot from the East Jerusalem gas station shows the officer firing at Mahmoud Abu Sneina.
A medical form documenting Mahmoud Abu Sneina's wouns

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