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Shoot-to-kill policy receives new prime minister’s seal of approval

Lawyer Khaled Zabarka says the policy constitutes “incitement for killing and violence against Palestinians.”

Jerusalem24 – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Minister of Public Security Omar Bar-Lev issued a joint statement yesterday reaffirming state support of a shoot-to-kill policy for Israeli police.

According to current procedures, any police officer may respond by shooting to kill when they feel they are in a life-threatening situation.

Lapid told Bar-Lev that he gives his “full backing” to the police and other security forces in their “fight against crime and terrorism.”

Human rights organizations have accused Israel of systematically engaging in extrajudicial executions, shooting to kill Palestinians as they are fleeing or laying incapacitated or even unconscious on the ground.

At least 82 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli police in East Jerusalem since 2000, including during or after alleged attacks on Israeli police or civilians.

“Determining whether or not an individual participated in hostilities has no bearing on the legal or moral legitimacy of using lethal force against them,” according to Israeli NGO B’Tselem.

In many cases, it has emerged after the killing that the suspects had not been engaged in an attack at all. One of the most notorious cases in recent years, which caught the attention of the international media (most notably in US where parallels were made with killings of Black people at the hands of police), is that of Eyad Hallaq, a 32-year-old autistic man who was pursued by two Israeli officers before taking refuge in a garbage room, where he was shot and killed.

One of the officers involved in his killing was indicted in June 2021, a full year after Hallaq was killed. Court proceedings have been repeatedly postponed since then – most recently last Thursday when the hearing was delayed until 21 September, according to Khaled Zabarka, the lawyer representing Hallaq’s family.

Zabarka tells Jerusalem24 he doesn’t think that the extension of the shoot-to-kill policy – which Zabarka says constitutes “incitement for killing and violence against Palestinians” – will have any legal repercussions on Hallaq’s case, because Hallaq represented no threat to the police officers.

In the West Bank, the Israeli military officially revised its open-fire policy in December 2021 to allow soldiers to shoot Palestinians even if they are fleeing or present no immediate threat.

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