Israel to Probe Whether Police Volunteer Lawfully Killed Assailant Behind Jaffa Attack

Video clip appears to show police volunteer shooting Bashar Masalha, who stabbed a U.S. tourist to death, after he was already lying injured on ground.

Police stand near the body of the assailant at the scene of the Jaffa stabbing attack, March 8, 2016.
David Bachar

The Justice Ministry department responsible for investigating police officers has opened an inquiry into the police’s actions after the terrorist attack in Jaffa on Tuesday, in which United States citizen Taylor Force was murdered and 11 others were injured. A video clip of the incident after the terrorist was stopped raises questions of whether a police volunteer, who was guarding the scene where the wounded terrorist was lying on the ground and was no longer a threat, shot him without proper cause. Justice Ministry investigators have received the film and will look into suspicions that the volunteer’s firing caused the terrorist’s death.

The video clip shows the terrorist lying on the grass in the Charles Clore Park by the sea in southern Tel Aviv. It seems as if the terrorist cannot stand up after being shot by police. People begin to gather around him, while two policemen, one a regular police officer from the Yarkon District and the other an older volunteer, guard him. The two can be seen standing over the terrorist with their guns drawn, and the terrorist can be heard speaking.

The video shows people encouraging the police to shoot the terrorist. “Give it to him in the head,” can be heard from the people standing around the police officers. The regular police officer can be heard telling his superiors on the police radio: “I neutralized him.”

The people continue to goad the volunteer: “Son of a bitch ... Give it to him in the head,” and then at least one shot is heard, it seems from the pistol of the older volunteer. It is suspected this shot is what killed the terrorist.

After the volunteer shot, the crowd encouraged him and thanked him. But then the other policeman yells at the volunteer: “Yossi, enough, he is lying there neutralized, why are you shooting for no reason?” After that a bystander can be heard asking the police to stop shooting.

The video clip leaves no doubt that the terrorist no longer was a threat and was still alive for a number of minutes, while police officers stood around him with their guns drawn. The film clearly shows he was shot after the crowd encouraged the volunteer to shoot him again.

Investigators will collect testimony from the police officers and citizens who were at scene.

Force, 29, a tourist from the U.S., was killed and 11 people wounded, four of them seriously in stabbing attacks in Jaffa Port and the area of Tel Aviv bordering on Jaffa on Tuesday evening. The attacks were carried out by a single assailant, Bashar Masalha, 22, from the village of Auja, near Qalqilyah in the West Bank.

Police say Masalha stabbed four people at the Jaffa port, and then ran to the promenade attacking passersby, and stabbed four more near the Manta Ray restaurant. He then fled toward Tel Aviv, but was shot dead by police officers. He is thought to have carried out the attacks alone.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified one of the victims as Taylor Force's wife. It later became clear the woman was not related to Force.