Palestinian Shot Dead by Israeli Police in East Jerusalem Checkpoint After Suspected Attack

Family member of Ahmed Erekat says it was the night of his sister's wedding, and that police were quick to pull the trigger on a car accident

The scene of the incident at the 'container' checkpoint in East Jerusalem, June 23, 2020.
The scene of the incident at the 'container' checkpoint in East Jerusalem, June 23, 2020. Credit: Israel Police Spokesperson

The Israel Police said a Palestinian man was shot dead by Border Police officers Tuesday in East Jerusalem after a suspected car-ramming attack.

Ahmed Mustafa Erekat.

According to the police statement, the man accelerated his car and tried running over a female officer, who was injured lightly and evacuated to a Jerusalem hospital.

The man, identified as Ahmed Mustafa Erekat, 27, from Abu Dis, was shot several times and pronounced dead. The incident took place at the "container" checkpoint in Abu Dis, north of Bethlehem.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Erekat "got out of the car and approached officers who responded by shooting" him and "he died at the scene", Rosenfeld added.

Police did not immediately release video of the incident, and there was no way to independently verify the account.

Erekat's family told Haaretz that he doesn't believe this was a car-ramming attack, as it was the night of his sister's wedding and Erekat had rented a car to pick up his mother and sisters from a beauty salon in Bethlehem. The family member added that Erekat's wedding was set for next month as well.

"We believe that if something happened then it must have been a car accident or loss of control over the vehicle. As usual, police are quick to pull the trigger," said the family member, stressing that he doesn't believe Erekat would have done such a thing on the night of his sister's wedding, knowing what repercussions it would have for the family.

Palestinian officials also questioned the police's account of the man's death.

"This young man was killed in cold blood. Tonight was his sister's wedding," said Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Erekat said the man killed was his relative.

"What the occupation army (Israeli military) claims, that he was trying to run someone over, is a lie," he said.

In recent years, Israel has seen car-ramming attacks, shootings and stabbings carried out mostly by lone Palestinian attackers with no apparent links to armed groups.

Palestinians and human rights groups have also accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force, or in some cases opening fire at cars that merely lost control.

Tuesday's incident came as the Israeli government says it is advancing plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in line with the Trump administration's Mideast plan as early as July 1.

The Israeli annexation proposal has outraged the Palestinian leadership, which has rejected the Trump plan out of hand, and drawn condemnation from much of the international community.

AP and Reuters contributed to this report.

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