Editorial |

Where Is the Security Footage of Israeli Police Killing of Autistic Palestinian?

Eyad Hallaq's mother holding his picture while she mourns her son, East Jerusalem.
Eyad Hallaq's mother holding his picture while she mourns her son, East Jerusalem.Credit: AFP

Eyad Hallaq, a 32-year-old autistic man, was shot to death a month ago in Jerusalem’s Old City by two Border Policemen who chased him for no reason. They shot him as he lay on the floor of the trash area, even as his teacher, Warda Abu Hadid, screamed at them in Hebrew “He’s disabled!,” according to her own testimony. Hallaq was unarmed, he had done nothing and had not endangered anyone’s life. His killing appears to have been the execution of a helpless person.

The Justice Ministry department that investigates allegations of police misconduct has begun investigating the incident. But Nir Hasson and Josh Breiner reported in Haaretz this week some extremely troubling facts about the way the probe is being handled, facts that cannot be ignored.

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No footage from nearby security cameras has been released. According to a source involved in the investigation, the Justice Ministry investigators have no footage of the killing. This raises serious suspicions of destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice.

This week, Haaretz located at least seven security cameras in the area where the policemen killed Hallaq. Five are connected to the police’s Mabat 2000 system; the other two, in the trash area, are privately owned. Both the manager and an employee of the company that operates the trash area told Haaretz that both cameras were removed after the incident, later that day. It’s not clear whether they were taken by Border Policemen or by Justice Ministry investigators.

Consequently, there are two possibilities, both of them extremely grave. Either policemen stole the cameras to destroy evidence, or the Justice Ministry is concealing information from the public. If the footage is in the ministry’s possession, it must release it immediately rather than hiding behind lame excuses about the investigation, which in any case is nearing its end. Any other behavior by the ministry will be seen as a cover-up.

If the footage has disappeared, then the situation is much worse, and the ministry must prosecute the police officers for obstruction of justice. The fact that the main suspect has only been questioned once, neither a confrontation between the two suspects nor a reenactment of the crime has been held and the suspects are free also raise grave suspicions.

Hallaq’s killing shocked many people. Even the prime minister and the defense minister expressed regret and promised an investigation. One month after he was killed, the law enforcement system must prove that it isn’t seeking to bury the investigation and not to bring those responsible to justice, as they deserve. Hallaq’s blood cries out for justice.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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