Israel's Top Arab Cop Trips Over Victim, Leaves Murder Scene

Brig. Gen. Jamal Hakhrush, who headed the administration to improve police services to the Arab community, offered the victim no aid, and didn't try to stop the suspect ■ Police announce investigation, Hakhrush on leave

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
Police chief Kobi Shabtai and Jamal Hakhrush.
Police chief Kobi Shabtai and Jamal Hakhrush.Credit: Fadi Amun
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Saturday, September 12, 2020. Tension at the Kana Iron plant in Kafr Kana is high. The plant’s owners, the Amara family, are in a feud over a plot of land they own. In the second floor offices are, among others, CEO Ghazi, his uncle Fadi (who is known to police) and an attorney who came to sign them on documents regarding the disputed land.

Fadi is enraged. Security cameras show Jamal Hakhrush entering the plant at 12:02 P.M. A brigadier general in the Israel Police and the man currently in charge of the unit for fighting crime in the Arab community, the off-duty Hakhrush has come to pay for an order he’d recently placed. The murder scene he is about to walk into will raise many questions about his conduct – as a police officer and as a person.

At that time, Hakhrush served as head of the administration to improve police services to the Arab community. He is a resident of Kafr Kana himself, and at 65, Hakhrush became the first Muslim police brigadier general, climbing from field reconnaissance at the Hadera precinct, through commanding the Zevulun region, to his current position.

While he sat in the office behind the clear glass door, the argument between the uncle and nephew taking place next to him quickly erupted into a physical fight. During the exchange Fadi head-butted his nephew, who bit him in the nose in retaliation. In an attempt to calm tensions, the uncle was taken to the kitchen, where he grabbed a knife and stabbed his nephew in the chest. The injured Ghazi, yelling and clutching his chest, hobbled to the staircase, where he stumbled and collapsed. For a short while, he was still moving.

Brig. Gen. Jamal Hakhrush (in dark blue shirt) seen arriving at the factory, Ghazi Amara collapsing

"Big officer Hakhrush,” as one of the witnesses in the case calls him, does all he can to remain uninvolved. To completely ignore the murder taking place in close proximity, walking over a dead body, ignoring an assailant barricaded in the next room, nowhere close to taking command of the scene.

As Fadi locked himself in the kitchen, those present – family members and employees – gave Ghazi first aid. the lawyer called the police, telling them: "Someone stabbed someone with a knife, please hurry with an ambulance, the victim is unconscious."

The family decided not to wait for the ambulance and evacuated Ghazi to the clinic. Magen David Adom personnel who joined them tried to resuscitate Ghazi, but in vain. His was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.

Meanwhile, the first police officers began to arrive. Footage from their body cams indicates the pandemonium reigning at the scene: Fadi continued to barricade himself in the kitchen, facing threats from his family. A patrolman used a taser to deter one of them. Later on special police units were called in as backup, Fadi opened the kitchen door and was taken into custody.

At this point one of the special police officers noticed Hakhrush, who had meanwhile returned to the scene. Their body cameras recorded their astonishment, as the policeman called out, “He was here!”

The policeman continued: “He was witness to the incident from what I gather. He came to make a payment. Settle an account.” The officer told another policeman, “You have Hakhrush here,” and that “he was also involved.” Hakhrush returned to the scene with the police officers called in. “What’s up?” he asked those present in Arabic.

The Kana Iron plant, in Kafr Kana, this week.

‘Saw everything’

It was the stabber, Fadi Amara, who repeatedly besought the investigators to speak to Hakhrush. “I came to the office, we’re sitting – who walks in? Jamal Hakhrush,” he said in his testimony. “Hakhrush is an officer. A commanding officer.”

Then he described the clash with his nephew. “Ghazi held me and began to drive me from the office to the corridor, because there were businessmen and Jamal Hakhrush there, and Ghazi didn’t want them to see him behave like that.” Later on he added: “Everyone left the kitchen. I don’t know why they left. There were people, among them Jamal Hakhrush, who separated. Eventually I was left alone in the kitchen, so I locked the door and waited for the police to come.”

Although Fadi testified that Hakhrush intervened in the scuffle, there is no corroboration for this. At another questioning, Fadi again addressed Hakhrush’s presence. “Jamal Hakhrush was there,” he said. “This is a man [who] should help me, saw everything. He saw me sitting and that I left and that I was attacked. I went toward him and said to him, ‘Look what he did to me.’ I don’t know how he responded and what he said. Just let Jamal Hakhrush say what happened.”

And indeed, Hakhrush came to give his statement at the Kafr Kana police station shortly after the killing. But sources said his testimony was laconic, to say the least. Hakhrush said he noticed Fadi shouting and that when he left the place he realized that someone was barricaded in the kitchen. He added that he noticed another person bleeding from the chest who was being evacuated by two people, and that he did not know the man’s condition. But it is doubtful whether Hakhrush realized that he was being filmed.

Hakhrush did not intervene even after Ghazi staggered out mortally wounded. Why didn’t he take control until more police arrived? Why didn’t he look for the knife that Fadi later hid? And above all, how is it that a senior cop stepped over a bleeding man and left, without offering aid?

The images and descriptions of the scene were publicized at Haaretz’s request, despite opposition from the Northern District prosecution even though the case is not being heard on camera. Hakhrush himself has not been called to testify.

The Israel Police initially stated in response that “The case is still being tried, and Hakhrush is a prosecution witness. As a result, we cannot address your allegations.”

Following this report, the police announced later on Monday that Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai appointed a team to look into the events of September 2020, and that Hakhroush would be going on leave until the investigation is over.

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