update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Court acquits border policeman in shooting of autistic Palestinian

The officer will be reinstated and allowed to participate in an upcoming commander's course.

Israeli police guard the location where Iyad Halak was shot near the Lions' Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, May 30, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli police guard the location where Iyad Halak was shot near the Lions' Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, May 30, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The Jerusalem District Court acquitted a Border Police officer on Thursday in a case stemming from the 2020 killing of an autistic Palestinian.

The officer, whose name remains under a gag order, shot and killed Iyad Halak in the capital’s Old City after mistaking the latter’s phone for a weapon, and after orders for Halak to halt went unheeded.

The court ruled that the officer had “acted out of self-defense and concern for his life and the lives of others.”

Border Police Commander Amir Cohen hailed the ruling and emphasized that the officer had received support “throughout the entire journey.”

Cohen added that the officer would be reinstated and allowed to participate in an upcoming commander’s course.

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said, “We commanders sent the police officer on a mission and we bear the responsibility to stand by his side.

“I believe the court was correct in its ruling,” he added.

Halak, 32, was shot while on his way to the special-education institute that he attended daily in Jerusalem.

Israel Police officers stationed at the Lions’ Gate in the Old City—the site of many Palestinian stabbings and other attacks—told investigators that Halak’s behavior had appeared suspicious.

They said that when they called on him to halt, he ran, spurring them to summon the Border Police.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Tuesday praised the court’s decision, saying: “Our heroes who go out to defend us and the State of Israel will always get my full backing.”

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