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From the field

Israeli Border Police kill Siham Nimer in unjustified shooting after she brandished scissors at them

Siham NimerOn the afternoon of 29 March 2017, Siham Nimer, 49, approached a metal police barrier near Damascus Gate, the Old City, East Jerusalem. She brandished a pair of scissors at Border Police officers who were standing on the other side of the barrier, and they shot and killed her.

A screenshot from a security camera installed in the area, released by the police, shows Siham holding up the scissors while standing behind the police barrier. It is quite doubtful whether Siham could have, in the circumstances, crossed the barrier, proceeded toward the officers and put them in danger. Moreover, given the officers’ protective gear and the means they had at their disposal, it stands to reason that they would have been able to subdue her and take her into custody without resorting to gunfire, let alone lethal gunfire. Nevertheless, they shot and killed her. Jerusalem District Police Commander Major General Yoram Halevy said of the officers’ actions that their “determined, uncompromising response nipped the attempted attack in the bud and prevented further harm to innocents”. There is an irreconcilable gap between the facts of the case and the district commander’s statement which, coupled with similar sentiments expressed by other senior ranking officials and a mood of general hostility ever since October 2015, encourages security personnel to shoot to kill even in cases such as this one, where lethal measures are unjustified.

Siham Nimer was the mother of Mustafa Nimer, 26, who was shot and killed by police in Shu’fat Refugee Camp on 5 September 2016. The police said the driver of the car he was a passenger in at the time had been driving erratically under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In both cases, the security forces’ trigger happy policies with regard to Palestinians have resulted in needless death.

B’Tselem has already repeatedly stated that shooting to kill is permissible only when the target puts others’ lives at risk. This is yet another case in which security forces acted completely at variance with this, and received full support for their actions. The continued policy of using lethal fire against Palestinians who pose no mortal danger attests to a chilling gap between the recognized and accepted principle that prohibits this use of gunfire, and a reality in which shoot-to-kill incidents are a frequent occurrence and are encouraged by public sentiment, even when suspects no longer poses any danger, if they ever even posed a serious threat in the first place.