Investigators: Israeli police officer who shot Arab man acted in self-defense

The Israel Police flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to The Israeli Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department has decided not to press charges against a police officer who was involved in a deadly clash with a young Israeli Arab man in November 2014.

Kheir ad-Din al-Hamdan, a resident of Kafr Kanna in northern Israel, was shot to death following a violent exchange with officers who had arrived to arrest his neighbor. His death sparked violent protests in the Arab community.

The decision not to prosecute the officer, which was made together with the State Attorney’s Office, follows a lengthy investigation that scrutinized the video footage of the incident, the evidence on the scene, and re-enactments. The investigators, who relied on expert analysis and eyewitness accounts (including that of residents of the area and the deceased’s family) concluded that the officer acted appropriately.

According to Justice Ministry officials, the police arrived at the village to arrest a man who was suspected of throwing a grenade. Hamdan apparently taunted the officers when they were about to approach the suspect’s home. He did not heed their orders to clear the area and even approached them. According to the investigators, he ran toward their car while wielding a large kitchen knife whose length exceeded 10 inches, while chanting “Allahu akbar” (“God is greater” in Arabic). 

Video footage show him hitting the police car’s windows with the knife and attempting to open the door. One of the officers stormed out of the car and fired a shot in the air, but Hamdan was undeterred and hit the window of the car. Another officer then exited the car and pointed the gun at Hamdan, who walked backward. Despite being told repeatedly to drop the weapon, he refused to do so. The investigators said the whole incident lasted no more than 13 seconds.

Posted on May 6, 2015 .