The Israeli government has expressed its support for the two police officers who on Saturday killed a Palestinian who had just stabbed an ultra-Orthodox Jew near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s old city. The Palestinian, identified as Mohamed Salima, was lying unarmed on the ground when he was shot.
Following the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appreciated the agents’ “quick and decisive action” against “a terrorist who tried to murder an Israeli civilian”. “This is how our armed forces are expected to behave, and this is how they have acted,” he said.
Bennett emphasized on Sunday that “the overall recording leaves no room for doubt: you have done extremely well, as is necessary in such an operational situation” and accuses the Palestinian media of having published an edited version of the recording. Bennett also expressed satisfaction with the initiation of an investigation.
Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, for his part, initially denied the need to investigate the incident, but later defended that the agents were being interrogated as a “routine action”. Barlev pointed out that it was not known whether the suspect was wearing an explosives belt.
Apparently the agents claimed that they shot the person several times while he was lying down on the ground from the first few shots, believing that he might still pose a threat. Both agents are working this Sunday and their weapons have been returned to them.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed itself “shocked” at this “apparent extrajudicial execution”. “The recording shows Salima attacking a passerby and an agent with a knife before he is shot. When he was wounded on the ground, Israeli forces shot Salima twice and apparently killed him,” the agency said in a statement. .
“These types of extrajudicial executions result from the regular use of lethal force against Palestinians by well-armed and well-protected Israeli security personnel,” he said. In addition, the body indicates “the almost total lack of accountability for the deaths and injuries suffered by the Palestinians by the Israeli forces”.
The Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas have condemned this death as “a continuation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people”. Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayé has condemned this “crime by execution” and called for the International Criminal Court to intervene.
The Israeli human rights group B’TSelem criticized that the language of the Israeli authorities was “not neutralized, but simply executed”.
What happened is also criticized by the Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Issawi Frej from the left-wing Meretz party. “In an attack, attackers have to be shot to save lives, not to take them away when they are no longer a threat.”
The Arab-Israeli MPs Aida Touma-Suleiman and Ofer Cassif have also denounced this death. For Touma-Suleiman, the assailant was “executed when he was no longer a threat” and Cassif has denounced an “extrajudicial execution”. “Shooting at an injured man on the ground when he is no longer in danger, no matter what he has done, is a war crime,” said Cassif.