Netanyahu offers condolences a week after police kill autistic Palestinian
More than a week after Israeli police shot dead an unarmed and autistic Palestinian in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called the killing a “tragedy” and offered his condolences to the family.
Iyad Hallak, 32, was killed during a police chase in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 30. A police spokesman said at the time officers suspected he was carrying a weapon.
The police officer who shot Halaq has been released from custody and placed under house arrest.
“What happened to Iyad Hallak is a tragedy. This was a man with disabilities, autism, who was suspected – and we (now) know wrongly – of being a terrorist in a very sensitive venue,” Netanyahu said.
Palestinians are enraged as they observe similarities between the Palestinian man’s encounter with police and the death in the United States of African-American George Floyd after a police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee into his neck while detaining him.
Iyad Hallak was shot twice in the chest on May 30 after he ran away in a panic as he heard Israeli officers yelling.
His carer, Warda Abu Hadid, tried to alert the soldiers that Hallak was severely autistic and didn’t understand, but her warnings fell on deaf ears.
She recalled shouting: “He’s disabled, disabled! Wait a moment, take his ID card, check his ID.”
“Suddenly they fired three bullets at him, in front of my eyes, don’t shoot him. They didn’t listen; they didn’t want to hear,” she said.
Hundreds of people attended Hallak’s funeral a week ago.
Palestinian officials and Hallak’s family said he suffered from severe autism and panicked and ran after the officers confronted him.
“I know that (police) are conducting examinations. We all share in the grief of the family,” Netanyahu said in public remarks to his cabinet.
Addressing Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana, who is responsible for police, Netanyahu said: “I expect your full investigation into this matter.”
At last week’s cabinet session, Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s centrist partner in Israel’s new unity government, publicly apologized for Hallak’s death. The right-wing Netanyahu, sitting next to him, kept silent at the time.