Police Fail to Investigate East Jerusalem Murder Beyond West Bank Separation Barrier

Man shot in the village of Kafr Aqab, which police need military escort to reach

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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A view of Kafr Aqab and Israel's West Bank barrier, East Jerusalem, October 2017.
A view of Kafr Aqab and Israel's West Bank barrier, East Jerusalem, October 2017.Credit: Emil Salman
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

An East Jerusalem resident was shot to death on Saturday, but the police have yet to come to the site of the shooting in Kafr Aqab because it is beyond the West Bank separation wall.

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Although combing a murder scene ought to be routine, the Israel Police do not enter the Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the barrier without coordinating with and being chaperoned by the army.

Four people shot Razi Mahalus on Saturday morning and torched his car, apparently in relation to an interfamily dispute. He was taken to Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, where he was declared dead. The murder was committed in broad daylight and was documented by residents.

A few hours after the crime was committed, two apartments were set on fire in a building where, according to residents, two of the families that committed the murder live. The residents called the fire service, but the firetrucks had to wait at the Qalandiya checkpoint for a military escort, and the fire was eventually put out by the residents themselves, with help from Palestinian Authority firefighters.

The police have launched an investigation and have obtained evidence and videos from the murder.

“Immediately after receiving a report about the incident, police opened an investigation and conducted preliminary investigative activities,” the police said. “The investigation is just beginning and we will continue to investigate the incident thoroughly and conduct all the necessary actions to reach a conclusion and prosecute those involved to the full extent of the law.”

Since the separation barrier was erected more than 15 years ago, most official Israeli agencies, including the police and the municipality, have limited their activity in the Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond it. Under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is forbidden to enter those areas, because they are within Jerusalem’s city limits. As a result, tens of thousands of residents living in those areas are not properly serviced by any authority.

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