Palestinian Family Mourns Autistic Son Killed by Israeli Border Police

The family of an occupied East Jerusalem man with autism who was murdered by border police said on Monday, June 1, that they didn’t believe Israel would do anything to the offending cops because their victim was Palestinian. They met all Hadash lawmakers at their home in Wadi al-Joz neighborhood.

Iyad Halak, 32, was multiply shot and killed in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday, May 30, by border police who said that the unarmed man appeared to be holding a gun. However, Halak had apparently not understood officers’ orders to halt as he passed near the Lion’s Gate. He reportedly fled on foot and hid in a garbage room, where he was gunned down.

Protesters hold a vigil in Jaffa, Monday evening, June 1 following the shooting death of Iyad Halak, 32, in the Old City of Jerusalem by Israeli Border Police.

Protesters hold a vigil in Jaffa, Monday evening, June 1 following the shooting death of Iyad Halak, 32, in the Old City of Jerusalem by Israeli Border Police. (Photo: Activestills)

On Monday evening, top Joint List lawmaker, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) lashed out at the new far-right public security minister, Amir Ohana, over the matter during a heated Knesset discussion. Ohana had earlier expressed sorrow for Halak’s death and vowed to investigate. But he said it was too early to “pass sentence” on the police officers involved, noting that they “are required to make fateful decisions in seconds in an area that has been inundated with terror attacks, and in which there is a constant danger to their lives.”

“You’re a coward!” Joint List chairman shouted at Ohana in the Knesset plenum. “If you have the courage, bring us the video of the incident. In any other case, you release the clip within a few hours. Where is the video of Iyad Halak’s murder?” “You’re a cheap opportunistic coward, you chicken,” Odeh continued, as Ohana stayed silent and looked at his phone. “You are part of the crime. We want to know the truth. We want to know what happened in East Jerusalem, where there is a camera in every alleyway. You’re a liar.” As he was dragged out of the plenum by guards, Odeh shouted: “You murdered him, you criminals! You are a criminal. Had you been human, I would have asked you how you could sleep at night. But you’re not human.”

Hundreds attended Halak’s funeral late Sunday, May 31, marching through the streets of occupied East Jerusalem and chanting Palestinian slogans. Halak was carried in an open green coffin on the shoulders of the mourners, his body draped in a Palestinian flag.

Demonstrations against police brutality sparked by Halak’s death were held on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth and other localities. Some held signs drawing connections between the case of Halak and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which ignited mass protests across the United States.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stressed on Tuesday, June 2, that Israel must swiftly open a full, independent, impartial, competent and transparent investigation into the killing by Israeli forces in Jerusalem of a Palestinian man with a learning disability, declaring that “those responsible must be held to account.” A press statement issued by OHCHR said that the United Nations has for years documented and publicly reported on the routine use of lethal force by Israeli Security Forces against Palestinians, in Gaza and in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem. “International law is clear: law enforcement officials may only resort to lethal force when strictly necessary, meaning as a response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and in accordance with the principle of proportionality.”

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said in tweet that the killing of Hallak is “a new crime that will be met with impunity unless the world stops treating Israel as a state above the law and the International Criminal Court fulfills its mandate.” The ICC Prosecutor said in December that she has decided to start an investigation into the situation of Palestine after concluding that Israel may have committee war crimes against the Palestinians under its occupation.

Hallak was the second Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces in the occupied territories in less than 24 hours. The night before Soldiers killed Fadi Adnan Sarhan Samara, 37, the father of from the village of Abu Qash north of Ramallah, claiming he attempted to hit them with his car, an allegation strongly denied by the man’s relatives who said he was on his way to pick up his family.

Related: Protesters in West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: “Minneapolis is Here!”