Israel Police Killed Six Suspects This Year, but No Indictments Were Filed

The latest is an East Jerusalem resident who was shot while driving a stolen car, endangering cops and others on road, say police

A police vehicle in East Jerusalem's Isawiyah neighborhood, November 10, 2019.
Ohad Zwigenberg

Six people have died so far this year in incidents that involved the use of force by the police, but none of the policemen involved have yet been indicted.

Only in two of the six cases did the Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct question the policemen as suspects. But one of those cases was ultimately closed, while the other – the shooting of Ethiopian Israeli Solomon Teka by an off-duty policeman in Kiryat Haim in June – is awaiting a decision by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan.

The latest such killing, of Fares Abu Nab from East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood, took place before dawn Sunday, as police were chasing suspected car thieves in the Givat Masua neighborhood, not far from the checkpoint leading to the Tunnel Road.

Police said that during an operation to catch car thieves from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they spotted three stolen cars heading for Bethlehem. One of the drivers was endangering the police car and other cars on the road, the statement added, and in response, the officers “fired at the suspect to neutralize the threat.”

Abu Nab was hit and later died of his injuries. Four other suspects were arrested.

The Justice Ministry department has opened an inquiry, but hasn’t yet questioned the policeman who opened fire.

The first of this year’s killings of civilians by cops took place in January. Ethiopian-Israeli Yehuda Biadga was shot in Bat Yam after police said he tried to knife a policeman who sought to arrest him. The Justice Ministry department concluded, based on testimony from eyewitnesses, that the policeman acted appropriately, so he was never questioned as a suspect.

That same month, Riyad Shamasneh, a Palestinian from a village near Jerusalem, was killed during a car chase on Jerusalem’s Begin Boulevard. The policeman who shot him was questioned as a suspect, but the case was ultimately closed.

In June came the shooting of 18-year-old Teka. Nitzan is slated to decide soon whether the officer who shot him should be prosecuted.

Also in June, 20-year-old Mohammed Abid was shot during clashes with police in East Jerusalem’s Isawiyah neighborhood, apparently after he threw fireworks at the police. In this case, no policemen were questioned as suspects.

In September, 43-year-old Avi Hasson of Ashdod was killed at the Ashdod police station as he was being taken to a cell after being arrested for disturbing the peace. Police said he went wild inside the station, so they shot him several times with a Taser. The policeman who used the Taser said he did so because Hasson was endangering himself by banging his own head against the bars with great force.

Hasson lost consciousness and eventually died, but it’s not yet clear that the electric shocks are what caused his death. Suspicions also arose that he had taken drugs or ingested some poisonous substance, and that this is what led to his death. Consequently, the Justice Ministry is awaiting the results of an autopsy and lab tests before deciding how to proceed.

Sources involved in the issue said that investigations are opened only against policemen who are suspected of committing crimes. For instance, a border policewoman is now being investigated over an incident in Tamra last Thursday in which she shot and seriously wounded someone while arresting him. She was released with restrictions after being questioned.

There have been two other cases this year in which people died during police chases, but neither involved the police opening fire.

In July, a 22-year-old woman from Kiryat Bialik died when the car she was riding in overturned while fleeing the police. The driver and the other passengers were injured but survived, and were arrested.

In October, a 33-year-old man from Taibeh whom police suspected of car theft crashed into another car on Route 6 as police were chasing him. He was killed instantly.