Days after Israeli border police shot dead an autistic Palestinian in Jerusalem on his way to his special needs school, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to condemnation on Sunday, calling the killing a “tragedy”.
Palestinians had condemned the shooting as a “war crime” and said Israeli “impunity” meant it was not held accountable for such shootings.
Many on social media compared the shooting to the U.S. police killing of George Floyd, using the hashtag #Palestinianlivesmatter in reference to the Black Lives Matter protests seen across the U.S. and elsewhere in recent days.
Iyad Halak, in his early 30s, had been escorted by a female teacher on his way to his special education institution on May 30 when he was ordered by Israeli border policemen patrolling the Old City to freeze.
Scared, he ran and hid behind a rubbish container, relatives said.
An Israel Border Police statement said a commander and an officer chased him on foot.
After mistaking what later turned out to be his mobile phone for a pistol, they opened fire on him.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday last week he was “truly sorry” for Halak’s death.
Netanyahu himself, however, remained silent until a week later.
“What happened with Iyad Halak is a tragedy,” he said in opening remarks in his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
“This was a man with a disability – autism, who was suspected – we know without justification – of being a militant in a highly sensitive area,” he added.
Netanyahu said the government now was awaiting the result of a Justice Ministry investigation. NAN