Israeli forces kill 26-year-old Palestinian 'with mental disorder'

Israeli forces kill 26-year-old Palestinian 'with mental disorder'
Wahb Shebeita's family said he had a psychological disorder after he was shot dead for allegedly trying to run over Israeli police officers
3 min read
03 April, 2024
Israeli ambulance teams reported one police officer was seriously injured and another moderately hurt [Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty-file photo]

Israeli forces shot dead a 26-year-old Palestinian man on Tuesday evening, whose family said was diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Wahb Shebeita, from the city of Tira inside Israel left his house "in a nervous manner", according to his family, who had informed the police of his psychological state and his personal details for his safety. 

According to Israeli claims, he ran over four police officers before trying to stab security forces, The New Arab's Arabic edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Ambulance teams belonging to the Magen David Adom, Israel's national emergency service, reported that one police officer was seriously injured and another moderately hurt.

The two other officers' injuries were described as minor.

Shebeita's brother had informed police his sibling was experiencing a psychotic episode and had threatened suicide 10 minutes before the alleged incident occurring, according to the family.

"He was a quiet and introverted boy, who recently was diagnosed with a mental disorder and received home care," the family told local media.

Sami Abou Shahadeh, a Palestinian former member of the Israeli Knesset said that the killing of Shebeita was an "intolerable policy and not a mistake".

"The more serious fact is that we will not know the truth about the killing because in Israel there is no independent body that can investigate the police," he added, saying that Israeli police are further "punishing the family", by preventing them from burying him. 

'Right to bury his body'

Shebeita's family has called for the right to bury his body and a thorough investigation into the events surrounding his killing.

"All we are asking for today is... for a factual and fair investigation to be conducted, emphasising our criticism of the ease with which the police officers pull the trigger when it comes to Arab citizens and stressing our clear position against violence in all its forms," his family said.

Shebeita's brother told Israeli newspaper Haaretz he informed police his sibling had gone out with a knife.

He said family members were worried about him doing "something unusual".

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They claimed what happened was an operation – meaning that it had a security backdrop, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Police claimed the alleged attacker drove his vehicle at speed, straying from his lane and hitting two police patrols at an intersection in Israel.

They said police were at the intersection as part of an effort to detect vehicle thieves.

The suspect then allegedly ran over the four police officers outside the two cars and carried on driving his vehicle for several kilometres until he reached the Eliyahu checkpoint, which leads to the occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya.

When he arrived, police claimed he exited his vehicle and pulled out a knife with Israeli forces at the checkpoint opening fire on him.

Israeli police stated that another person was with the suspect, but later refuted this.

Following the incident, a large police force raided the family's home, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The incident comes as Israel wages a brutal war against Gaza, where its military campaign has so far killed almost 33,000 people.

The war has also seen an escalation in the West Bank, with the Israeli airstrikes having killed 70 Palestinians in the territory since 7 October, according to a media report last month.

It marks a sharp increase in Israel's use of aerial attacks in the West Bank.

There has also been a sharp increase in settlement activity in the territory, according to a January report from Israeli NGO Peace Now.