Israel’s leading human rights organisation has called for a “transparent” investigation into the conduct of a police officer who was captured on video apparently shooting a Palestinian assailant as he lay on the ground motionless.
The country’s Justice Ministry has said it is “looking into the incident” but that no formal investigation had been opened on Thursday.
The incident came after the Palestinian, Bashar Masalha, stabbed to death an American tourist and wounded a number of Israelis in an attack in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv on Tuesday, that was one of the bloodier episodes since a wave of Palestinian violence began in October.
Video of the incident appears to show the policeman standing near Mr Masalha who is lying on the ground and not moving, having already been shot by officers. A man from the crowd apparently encourages the policeman to shoot, urging “Give it to him in the head. Give it to him in the head my brother. Way to go.” What sounds like a shot rings out and another voice says: “Why are you shooting needlessly?” Another person adds: “Don’t fire any more.”
The aftermath of the stabbings has focused renewed attention on charges by human rights groups that Israeli forces are killing Palestinian assailants after they no longer pose a threat. Police deny the accusations.
Sarit Michaeli of the B’tselem group called for an investigation and said that it needs to be “effective, prompt, transparent and unbiased”.
“On its face this seems like something that raises suspicions of disproportionate use of force against a person already subdued.” Ms Michaeli said. “Our concern is that there are cases of people being killed when they could be arrested.’’
Among previous cases Ms Michaeli cited was an officer in October shooting a Palestinian teen as she lay on the ground injured after she and a cousin had carried out an attack using scissors. The policeman was investigated and cleared. Officials told Channel Two television that there was no evidence of criminal intent.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
Medics evacuate a wounded man from the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian rammed a vehicle into a bus stop then got out and started stabbing people before he was shot dead
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members carry the body of an Israeli at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence
Palestinians throw molotov cocktail during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank. Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have wounded several Israelis
Women cry during the funeral of Palestinian teenager Ahmad Sharaka, 13, who was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah, at the family house in the Palestinian West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun, Ramallah
A wounded Palestinian boy and his father hold hands at a hospital after their house was brought down by an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Palestinians look on after a protester is shot by Israelis soldiers during clashes at the Howara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus
A lawyer wearing his official robes kicks a tear gas canister back toward Israeli soldiers during a demonstration by scores of Palestinian lawyers called for by the Palestinian Bar Association in solidarity with protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, near Ramallah, West Bank
Undercover Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian in Ramallah
Palestinian youth burn tyres during clashes with Israeli soldiers close to the Jewish settlement of Bet El, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after Israel barred Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City as tensions mounted following attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded a child
In December, B’tselem listed 12 cases in Israel and the West Bank from the previous three months which it said “paint a grave picture of excessive and unwarranted use of lethal gunfire, which in some cases is tantamount to summary executionof assailants or suspected assailants”.
Micky Rosenfeld, the police spokesman, dismissed B’tselem’s criticism and says that police use of force is “proportionate’’. “Each terrorist attack is different. Where police can make arrests, they arrest. In immediate life threatening situations our police have to open fire and kill the terrorists,” he said.
Last month, the Israeli army chief of staff, Lt-Gen Gadi Eisenkot, implied that on some occasions security forces were using unnecessary lethal force against young Palestinianscarrying out stabbing attacks. “When there is a 13-year-old girl holding scissors or a knife and there is some distance between her and the soldiers, I don’t want to see a soldier emptying his magazine at a girl like that even if she is committing a very serious act. Rather he should use the force necessary to fulfil the objective.”
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