Palestinian shot dead by police in Jerusalem

The family of a Palestinian man killed by an Israeli officer in Jerusalem’s Old City early Monday is refuting a police claim that he was waging an attack when shot dead.

Ibrahim Matar, 25, was killed at a police post near the Lion’s Gate entrance to al-Aqsa mosque shortly before dawn prayers. His family are calling on Israeli authorities to release security camera footage of the incident, the Ma’an News Agency reported.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Matar was carrying a stick, and that the altercation that led to Matar’s death could have been resolved without the use of lethal force.

Police allege that Matar stabbed two officers before he was shot dead, and distributed a photo of the knife allegedly used by Matar during the attack.

Two Border Police officers were moderately wounded during the incident.

Israeli police released a video showing blood smeared on the walls and the floors of the police post.

A photo of Matar circulated on social media following his slaying:

A relative of Matar told Ma’an that the family only learned of the incident when Israeli forces raided their home in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

The home was ransacked and police detained Matar’s parents, as well as his brother and an uncle, the relative said. He added that Matar worked 12-hour days and was not affiliated with any political faction.

Video published by Israeli police shows a large force deployed in the area of the Matar family’s home, and family members being led away from the house by police.

Collective punishment

Jabal al-Mukabbir was subjected to collective punishment following a January truck ramming attack carried out by Fadi al-Qunbar, a resident of the neighborhood. Al-Qunbar was shot dead at the scene. Four Israeli soldiers were killed and another 13 injured during the incident.

Punitive measures included demolition of property belonging to the attacker’s extended family, and the tearing down of a mourning tent erected by the family. Police restricted movement and closed roads in the neighborhood, and Israeli authorities moved to revoke Jerusalem residency rights from several members of al-Qunbar’s family.

Video shows police preventing Matar’s family from erecting a mourning tent in Jabal al-Mukabbir on Monday.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip were under closure until Monday night for the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Matar is the second Palestinian this month to have been shot dead during an alleged stabbing attack. Saadi Mahmoud Ali Qaisiya, 25, was killed after allegedly stabbing and lightly injuring a settler in a home in the Havat More outpost in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank.

Another Palestinian, the prominent activist Bassel al-Araj, was shot and killed during a raid on a home in the town of al-Bireh, near Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Al-Araj’s slaying has been met with protests calling for an end to Palestinian Authority security coordination with Israel. Palestinian forces used wooden batons, pepper spray and tear gas against demonstrators – including the father of al-Araj – and journalists. Seventeen were hospitalized as a result, according to Amnesty International.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian youth, 19-year-old Jihad Muhammad Hammad, was seriously wounded after he was shot in the head with a live bullet by Israeli forces in the village of Silwad, near Ramallah, on Friday.

Teen’s slaying “unjustified and unlawful”

Last week the Israeli rights group B’Tselem published its findings in the slaying of a Palestinian teenager during a protest in Tuqu, a village near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, in January.

Qusay al-Amour, 17, was killed by 22-caliber bullets, according to B’Tselem, which said that the shooting was “clearly unjustified and unlawful.”

A group of youths had been throwing rocks at soldiers from a distance of 80 to 100 meters, posing no danger, when al-Amour was shot.

“The open-fire regulations for the use of such bullets are strict, and confine their use to cases of mortal danger, similar to the use of live ammunition,” B’Tselem stated.

“Over the past two years, however, the military has almost routinely used these bullets as a means of crowd control, even when the troops on the ground are not in mortal danger,” leading to the deaths of six Palestinians and the injuries of hundreds more, the rights group added.

A high school student in Tuqu was detained on Monday on charges of stone-throwing.

Israeli forces pepper sprayed teachers at a village high school last month during a raid to tear down posters commemorating al-Amour. Weeks earlier, a home in the village with a view of the site where al-Amour was killed was taken over by Israeli soldiers and turned into a military outpost.

Eleven Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers so far this year.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.