Israel Closes Case Against Cop Who Shot Two Scissor-wielding Palestinian Teen Attackers

The probe was opened over the claim that the officer shot one of two assailants, a 16-year-old teen, even though she did not pose a danger

A member of the Israeli security forces washes blood stains at the site a stabbing attack carried out by two teenage Palestinian girls near Jerusalem's outdoor Mahane Yehuda market on November 23.
AFP

A case against an Israeli police officer who shot two scissor-wielding Palestinian girls in Jerusalem was closed on Monday due to lack of evidence.

The policeman who shot the two Palestinian girls, aged 14 and 16 at the time, was questioned under caution as a possible criminal suspect by the Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers after claims were made that he had shot one of the girls even though she did not pose a threat.

Footage of the November 2015 attack in Jerusalem

In November, 2015, the older teen first stabbed a 70-year-old man in his neck and back at a market in Jerusalem. The 14-year-old then tried to stab another person, who had a pistol and shot her. Shortly after, the policeman arrived at the scene and shot both girls.

The 14-year-old girl was killed and the other was seriously injured by the gunfire of the officer, a sapper with the Jerusalem District Police. The older teen was later convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 13.5 years in prison.

Although the policeman fired at both girls, he was only investigated for the shooting of the injured girl after allegations were made that he had shot her even though she did not pose a threat. The cop countered that he shot the teen because he believed the danger had not yet passed. While the police did not think the case should be investigated, top Justice Ministry officials decided to question the policeman.

In February, Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot responded to the incident by saying, "I don't want a soldier to empty a magazine on a girl with scissors."

Commenting on the case's closure, the department said the cop had explained that upon arriving at the scene, he got out of his car with his weapon drawn and called on the teens to stop. 

"Despite his warning and the weapon in his hand, the attacking girls approached him and continued waving the sharp offensive weapons," a statement said. "The officer didn’t know what the weapons were. In response, the policeman shot at them from short range to stop them, saying he suspected they were determined to carry out a suicide attack."

The statement stated that due to the exceptional nature of the event that suddenly unfolded, which seemed to demand an immediate response, it was found that the policeman's version of the story, in which he felt a life-threatening danger to himself and his surrounding and acted under pressure to eliminate the danger he witnessed, was reasonable. 

"Moreover, other eyewitnesses at the scene support his statement, confirming that they also felt that the two young women posed a clear and present danger to the lives of passersby," the statement read.

"For these reasons, it was found that the evidence regarding the policeman's reaction, even if professionally, he could have acted otherwise and even if he was mistaken in his judgment, does not provide a reasonable basis to prove a criminal use of force," the police said.

The teens were said to have carried out their attack in revenge for the death of the younger girls' brother, who suffered a head injury during violent clashes with Israeli security forces in 2013 and died of his wounds a year later. With school bags on their shoulders, the girls were said to have traveled into town by bus, where they prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount before buying two pairs of scissors to use in the attack.