Far-Right Minister of Internal Security, Amir Ohana, and Police officials are reportedly backing an officer who killed a mentally ill Arab man in Haifa on Monday, March 25, claiming that body-cam footage proves the cop justifiably “feared for his life.” The officer’s superiors and comrades believe he will be exonerated by an internal investigation after he shot to death Munir Anabtawi, 33, who allegedly attacked him with a knife, Al-Ittihad and Zo Haderech reported on Tuesday.
Anabtawi’s brother, Amir, said his mother attempted to call an ambulance to help Munir, who appeared to be having a psychotic episode, but accidentally reached the police, who reached the scene with tragic results. He told Channel 12 that the police are a “criminal organization that assassinated” his brother.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Psychiatric Association sent a statement on Tuesday to Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, saying that he should “immediately establish training arrangements and intervention teams to treat cases involving populations with psychiatric disorders.” “It would have been possible to prevent unnecessary loss of life that stems only from lack of knowledge and/or appropriate training,” the statement added.
“We saw videos of the incident, and after family members viewed the deceased’s body at Rambam Hospital it is clear that the cops acted unprofessionally, shooting him five times with live ammunition, killing him,” the family said in a statement published by the Musawa Center rights group. “Trained police officers are supposed to neutralize a suspect who is mentally ill without killing him,” the statement added. “In the incomplete video released by the police, which doesn’t represent the entire incident, the other officers aren’t seen and it’s impossible to determine at what stage they began shooting at the deceased.” The family called for a “comprehensive and professional investigation,” saying such incidents typically occur when the violent suspect is an Arab.
Joint List chair, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), a resident of Haifa, visited the bereaved family and told reporters, “The killing of 33-year-old Munir Anabtawi is merely the continuation of the aggressive treatment practiced by the police toward Arab citizens,” adding, “The police see Arab citizens as enemies, not equal citizens.”
According to Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash), “It is inconceivable that a call for assistance to the police would end in a killing, all the more so when it was known that he [Munir] was mentally ill.” Cassif recalled that last year, similar fatal incidents were reported. In one, police shot and killed a 30-year-old mentally ill Arab man, Shirel Habura, claiming that the victim attempted to stab a police officer. Also last year, police shot dead Iyad al-Hallaq, 32, an autistic Palestinian man, in the Old City of Jerusalem, admitting later that they had mistaken him for a terrorist.