Two Weeks After Fatally Injuring Palestinian Protester, Israeli Driver Yet to Be Questioned

Suleiman al-Hathalin died of his injuries earlier this week after attempting to block the path of a truck removing unlicensed cars in the West Bank

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
Suleiman Hathalin.
Suleiman Hathalin.Credit: Courtesy of the family
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

A tow truck driver who two weeks ago ran over and fatally injured a Palestinian man in the West Bank has yet to be questioned by the police.

The Palestinian, 65-year-old Suleiman Hathalin, died of his injuries on Monday. The police said that the driver has been summoned for questioning in the death of al-Hathalin, who had attempted to block the truck’s path.

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The driver was working on behalf of the police at the time of the incident, removing unlicensed vehicles that had been taken off the road as unroadworthy. Hathalin was a well-known protester in the area.

Palestinian witnesses to the incident in the village of Umm al-Kheir in the South Hebron Hills have also yet to be questioned. Thousands attended Hathalin's funeral in the village on Tuesday.

Hathalin’s son Moutasim said that he went to the Israeli police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba two days after the incident to file a complaint against the tow truck driver. The son said that the police refused to accept the complaint and told him to file it with the Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit, although the driver was a civilian and not a policeman. Qamar Mashraqi, a lawyer from the Haqel nonprofit group, who represents the family, said that she had arranged the son’s visit to the police station in advance.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Suleiman Hathalin during his funeral on Tuesday.Credit: Nasser Nasser/AP

A photo of the scene taken by Palestinians minutes before Hathalin was run over shows a policeman with a body camera. However, replying to a Haaretz inquiry about footage of the incident, the police said the police had not had cameras at the time.

About an hour prior to the incident, the driver posted a video on his Facebook page that appears to have been taken from a dashboard-mounted camera from the truck.

The police are yet to issue a response whether the driver has photos of the incident. The police have also not responded to Haaretz’s question regarding whether police officers at the scene of the incident would be questioned.

A photograph shows a policeman before the incident, wearing what appears to be a body camera.

Hathalin was well-known in the South Hebron Hills and regularly attended protests in the area. Following the incident, the tow truck and a police vehicle fled the scene without coming to Al-Hathalin’s assistance. According to the police, the Israelis at the scene did not offer assistance because of the threat that they faced from Palestinian stone-throwing.

Hathalin was hospitalized in Hebron, on a respirator and under sedation, until his death on Monday. “His absence in the village will be great,” his brother Odeh said. “Everyone will miss him. He was a symbol who placed himself on the frontline facing off against the police and the army as part of the non-violent resistance.”

The police said they are investigating the incident with input from the State Prosecutor’s Office. They added that the probe is also looking into stone-throwing by Palestinians at the Israelis at the scene in addition to the injuries that Hathalin sustained.

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