U.S. Ambassador to the United States David Friedman expressed his condolences Tuesday over the killing of an unarmed disabled Palestinian by the Israeli police in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Eyad Hallaq, 32, resided in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz. He attended and worked in a special needs school in the Old City, just meters away from where he was shot on Saturday.
“We are all saddened by the death of [Eyad Hallaq] this weekend and extend our deepest condolences to his family and to those who mourn this tragic loss. We welcome Israeli officials’ expression of sorrow and commitment to a swift investigation into the incident,” Friedman tweeted.
Hallaq was laid to rest Sunday overnight in his East Jerusalem neighborhood.
“He didn’t even know there was such a thing as Jews and Arabs in this country,” Hallaq's cousin, Dr. Hatem Awiwi, said.
Hallaq was diagnosed as being on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum as a child, and he had trouble communicating with those around him.
“He didn’t know what a police officer is,” Awiwi said. “He didn’t absorb things; he didn’t have the knowledge that there even was another side. He didn’t know what a soldier is or what a weapon is. He saw a stranger and fled, and then they shot him.”
According to a statement by the Border Police, two officers noticed the Palestinian carrying a suspicious object that they thought was a gun and ordered him to stop. After the man refused and started fleeing the scene, the officers started chasing him on foot and opened fire, ultimately killing him.
Hallaq died after being shot twice in the chest, an autopsy report revealed on Monday.
The autopsy was conducted Sunday at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir, with a Palestinian doctor present at the family’s request. The report revealed that two bullets to the chest had caused Hallaq's death.
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“The findings increase the suspicion that the policemen committed crimes, and we expect those responsible for the investigation to move it forward and put the policemen on trial,” said the family’s attorney, Jad Qadmani.
After the autopsy, Hallaq’s father was summoned to the police station in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound to coordinate funeral arrangements. They reached agreement on a route, and police didn’t restrict the number of participants, as it has done before in similar cases.
According to an initial investigation, two police officers began chasing Hallaq after they were alerted a terrorist is at large. The more senior officer of the two shot in the air while the junior officer shot at Hallaq, who was trying to hide behind a dumpster. The shooting officer said he suspected Hallaq was a terrorist because he was wearing gloves.