Israeli police 'knew' Palestinian was disabled before fatal shooting... he didn't know what police were

Israeli police 'knew' Palestinian was disabled before fatal shooting... he didn't know what police were
New details of Iyad el-Hallak's tragic death at the hands of Israeli police officers have emerged.
3 min read
02 June, 2020
Hallak 'didn't know what a police officer was' [Getty]
Israeli police were told an autistic Palestinian man was disabled and didn't understand their warnings before they shot him dead, his caretaker has said.

Iyad el-Hallak, 32, died on Saturday after being shot by Israeli Border Police officers in Jerusalem's Old City who said they thought he was carrying a "suspicious object".

New details of Hallak's tragic death have emerged, with relatives telling local media the Palestinian he did not understand what a police officer or soldier was.

He was diagnosed as being on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum as a child, meaning he often had difficulties communicating with those around him. Hallak was shot on his way to a special needs school that he attended.

"He didn't even know there was such a thing as Jews and Arabs in this country," his cousin, Dr. Hatem Awiwi, told Haaretz on Monday.

"He didn't know what a police officer is... He didn't have the knowledge that there even was another side. He didn't know what a soldier is or what a weapon is," Awiwi explained. "He saw a stranger and fled, and then they shot him."

Seperately, the caregiver who accompanied Hallak on his walk from his home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz to the Old City on Saturday said she had told the police he was "disabled" and pleaded with them not to shoot the man.

Warda Abu Hadid told Israel's Channel 13 she repeatedly told the officers, in Hebrew, that Hallak was disabled.

"Suddenly they fired three bullets at him, in front of my eyes," she said. "I shouted, 'Don't shoot him'. They didn't listen, they didn't want to hear."

After firing on Hallak, the police officers allegedly turned their guns on Abu Hadid.

"They came up to me, pressed their guns against me and said, 'Give us the pistol he gave you'. I said to them, 'He didn't give me any pistol, these are his mask and gloves', but they didn't listen," she explained.

Both Abu Hadid and Hallak's family have stated the "suspicious object" on the Palestinian's person was a mobile phone his father had told him to carry so that he could make sure Hallak arrived at the special needs school safely.

"He didn't know how to defend himself," the manager of the rehabilitation center Hallak attended told Haaretz

"He wasn't capable of it. And they didn't let him; they didn't listen to him," said Issam Jamal, who runs the Elwyn center.

"This is a great tragedy, a great loss... He had started to be independently mobile. He had started to gain employment skills. He was making good progress and had reached an advanced stage," Jamal added.

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