Israeli officer convicted for shooting Palestinian 'for fun'

Israeli officer convicted for shooting Palestinian 'for fun'
3 min read
09 June, 2020
The Israeli Border Police officer could face up to three years in prison for the filmed shooting of Palestinian Karam al-Qawasmi.
Border Police were filmed shooting Karam Qawasmi in the back [Getty]
An Israeli police officer has been convicted after being filmed shooting at a Palestinian man detained at a checkpoint, local media have reported.

The Border Police officer, who can not be identified due to a court ruling, shot the man with a sponge-tipped bullet "for fun", the justice ministry argued.

"The defendant took advantage of her role, status and authority to bear arms and trampled the complainant's dignity while exploiting his weakness, but only for the sake of amusement," prosecutors said.

She was convicted as part of a plea bargain as the prosecution was unable to prove whether she or one of the other officers at the Al-Zaim checkpoint fired the bullet. A video of the May 2018 incident did not show who fired the weapon.

The video, originally aired by Israel's Channel 13, shows Border Police officers clearing Palestinian Karam Al-Qawasmi after a security check and telling him to go on his way. 

As he walks back away from the officers with his hands held above his head, the man is shot in the back and falls immediately to the ground.

During the ministry's investigation, it emerged that the Border Police officers had conspired not to report the incident, and had even bragged about the shooting in private communications.

The 21-year-old officer was convicted of assault, reckless use of weapons and obstruction of justice. Two other officers have also been charged with obstruction of justice.

The charges against her in total carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Qawasmi has previously spoken out about the ordeal, alleging he was beaten by the Border Police officers before the filmed incident.

"I was detained for almost three hours and was subjected to cruel treatment. I was beaten and kicked," he told The New Arab last year.

"Later, they started shouting at me in Arabic ordering me to leave. I left raising my hands and was expecting to be shot. They shot me in the back with a bullet that has a needle injecting me with a drug, which as a result I collapsed and felt unable to move for 5 minutes. I thought I was going to die.

"Then they approached me and started shooting around me while I was on the ground. I was able to stand up and then managed to flee while they continued to shout at me and shoot in my direction. I had to walk for about one and a half hours despite my pain [until] I spotted a Palestinian car and the driver took me back to a hospital in Hebron."

Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.

Most recently, disabled Palestinian Iyad El-Hallak, 32, died late last month after being shot by Israeli Border Police officers in Jerusalem's Old City.

His caretaker said Israeli police were told he was autistic and didn't understand their warnings before they shot him dead.

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