Israel clears police in videotaped killing of Palestinian in Galilee village

An image of Kheir Hamdan widely circulated on social media.

Israel’s justice ministry has decided to close an investigation into the videotaped police slaying of a Palestinian in the Galilee village of Kufr Kana last November.

On 8 November, during an arrest raid in the village, Kheir Hamdan, 22, confronted a police vehicle and began to hit it with an object which Israel claimed was a knife. Though the Israeli police released a statement claiming that officers lives were in danger, security camera footage of the killing showed otherwise.

The officers exited the vehicle with guns drawn and one opened fire on Hamdan as he tried to run away, shooting him again after he hit the ground.

After the killing, Palestinian citizens of Israel launched protests across the country and held a general strike that shut down Palestinian areas of present-day Israel.

Waseem Abbas, secretary of the local branch of the Balad political party, says that “the anger is growing” in Kufr Kana. Locals will hold a protest tomorrow afternoon to denounce the justice ministry’s decision. 

“People here feel as if the decision [to close the investigation] is like killing the martyr Kheir Hamdan all over again,” Abbas told The Electronic Intifada, adding that it comes just weeks after Israeli police destroyed a home and displaced a local family. 

An estimated 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship and suffer from dozens of discriminatory laws that stifle their political expression and access to state resources, such as education and land, according to the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Center.

“No wrongdoing”

Referring to the killing of Hamdan, the justice ministry released a statement clearing the officer of accusations of wrongfully killing him.

“In these circumstances, which deal with very quick decision-making, in an incident involving a threat to officers, even a mistaken decision does not constitute a basis for suspecting a criminal offense without proof [of such an offense],” the Hebrew-language statement claimed, as reported by the The Jerusalem Post.

The statement added that the police ”investigation had found no wrongdoing in the evacuation of the wounded Hamdan, whom police picked up and dragged into the van before they drove him to an area hospital,” the Post noted.

Alluding to the recent anti-racism protests held by Ethiopian Jews in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Waseem Abbas argued that Israeli police “only open fire on Arabs.” 

At least 51 Palestinian citizens of Israel, many of them youths, have been killed by Israeli police since October 2000, when 13 unarmed protesters were fatally shot during demonstrations across the country.

Just two months after Hamdan was killed, two Palestinians in Rahat, a city in the Naqab (Negev) region of southern present-day Israel, were killed by police, as reported by The Electronic Intifada at the time.


Sami al-Jaar, 22, was fatally struck by a bullet as he stood in front of his home while police clashed with youth across the street on 14 January.

After strikes and protests erupted across the country, Israeli police attacked mourners at al-Jaar’s funeral just five days later. During the ensuing clashes, another Rahat resident, Sami Ziadna, died from excessive tear gas inhalation.

Despite claims of widespread police brutality and the large number of Palestinian citizens of Israel who have died at the hands of the police, a September 2014 report published by Adalah concluded that Israel “provide[s] wide immunity to the police from being held to account, and protects them from disciplinary measures for their brutal acts of violence and repression,” including police slayings.

The report suggests that Mahash, the body within the justice ministry charged with investigating claims of police misconduct, has a poor track record.

From the 11,282 complaints of police misconduct submitted between 2011 and 2013, Adalah found that Mahash closed 93 percent “with or without an investigation.” More alarmingly still, only 3.3 percent led to disciplinary action against police officers and a mere 2.7 percent resulted in prosecutions.

“This grants the police impunity for their actions, and is a factor that shapes the police force’s use of violence against Israeli citizens, particularly against Palestinian citizens,” the Adalah report adds.




It's clear from the video that this was a cold-blooded murder. Hamdan never even remotely threatened the safety of the police or anyone else, and the killers made no attempt to restrain or to arrest him. To claim this presents no evidence of a crime is -- criminal.


~ Our good, brave, honest police officers and agents with integrity deserve not only better training and standards, but leaders that lead by good example in their agencies for their officers to follow. It is up to the management to weed out the bad apples and when one of their own breaks the law or their own code of conduct or ethics, or even a mistake, it is their superiors that have to take responsibility and hold them accountable. The lives of all law enforcement officers are in their care. As are the lives of the public. People want the Truth.

~ Bad cops lie, falsify reports, plant evidence, use excessive force, flat out lie under oath in a court of law. And never even blink.

~ And good ones sometimes feel like they have to also and break their own code of ethics and conduct to cover for the bad ones. Or otherwise be labeled a rat and face retaliation. If any officer breaks the Law, Code of Conduct or Ethics, he should not be shielded by the Police Bill of Rights.

~ What is more concerning and a national security threat, is what the bad apples do off duty, or on duty but off camera...................?

~ Yes, polygraphs can be beat. Yes, the are inadmissable in court. Yes, they are only as good as the examiner. But if used as a tool to weed out the bad apples, and protect the good cops, maybe they would think twice before breaking the very laws they were sworn to uphold.

~ All Levels of Law Enforcement have for decades felt that the polygraph is a much needed and essencial part of the hiring process. Why not change Policy that Polygraphs and Psych Evals for new Hires expire every 5yrs? (Including applicants for higher ranking positions)
~ National Institute of Ethics: Police Code of Silence - Facts Revealed
~ DoD: Random Lie-Detector Tests Increase Personnel Security "the polygraph is the single most effective tool we have."

Patrick Strickland

Patrick Strickland's picture

Patrick O. Strickland is an independent journalist and frequent contributor at The Electronic Intifada. He is presently working on his first book for the London-based publishing house Zed Books. See his in-depth coverage for EI.