Israeli Police Chief Kobi Shabtai publicly backed the Border Police officer accused of the May 2020 reckless homicide of Eyad al-Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian youth, on Wednesday.
In remarks made at a Border Police ceremony, the police chief said that he and current Border Police commander Amir Cohen back the officer and stand by him. Al-Hallaq, Shabtai said, was killed "in tragic circumstances during a tense security period replete with terror attacks," adding that "what was done cannot be undone."
"I regret the incident and extend condolences to Eyad's family," Shabtai continued, "We trust the court to reach the truth, and at the same time it is important for me to say that we are the ones who sent the officer on his mission, and it is our responsibility to stand by him even under these circumstances."
The police chief said that soldiers who act wrongfully "out of malice," will "answer for their deeds," and that the Israel Police will "accept no deviation from the organization's values and norms," but that "fighters who acted and erred based on the information available to them at the moment will receive the backing they deserve from us."
The officer, whose name is under gag order, is currently standing trial at the Jerusalem District Court for the killing.
Police claim the officers at the scene erroneously believed al-Hallaq to be a terrorist, and that during the chase, police fired at him until he fled to a nearby trash room – where police entered and shot him in the abdomen.
After that shooting, two more officers entered the trash room, one asking the wounded man where his gun was. Al-Hallaq then raised himself a bit, pointed at his special-needs teacher who had also arrived on the scene, and mumbled something. One of the officers then turned to the teacher to ask her where the gun was, to which she replied, "What gun?"
According to the indictment, just at that moment, and despite al-Hallaq already being on the ground and empty-handed, the officer then shot him in the torso again, killing him.
- Israel Says Security Cameras Where Police Shot Autistic Palestinian Were Not Working
- 'He's Disabled,' the Aide Yelled. 'I'm With Her,' Eyad Cried. The Cop Still Shot Him
- Eyad's Mom Sleeps in His Bed. His Dad Won't Eat. This Is Their Message for the Cops
Eyewitnesses added that after the killing, one of Eyad's counselors ran into the trash room screaming "He's disabled, he's disabled!" at the police in both Hebrew and Arabic.
The following June, Israel's Justice Ministry that there is no video footage of the incident, raising concerns that Israeli authorities' investigation will end with no clear conclusion in a case that sparked outrage and protest across Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Investigators did not elaborate on the issue of security cameras, though a Haaretz investigation revealed that there are no fewer than 10 private security cameras in the 150 meters between the Old City's Lion's Gate where the chase began and the trash room where al-Hallaq was shot to death.