In 13 incidents over the past two weeks, Palestinians were shot to death for stabbing or attempting to stab Israelis , or when suspected of doing so. In two of these cases, video footage published by the media raises grave concern that the security forces shot to kill even when it was clear that the Palestinians no longer posed a threat and could be apprehended in other ways. Yesterday (14 Oct.), Israeli police and Border Police officers shot and killed Basel Sidr, 20, close to Damascus Gate, an entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. According to the police report, Sidr drew a knife and ran towards Border Police officers, who responded immediately by shooting at him. Sidr changed direction and ran towards other police officers, who fired at him after the Border Police officers called out to them.
In two segments of video footage published by the media, Sidr is seen shot while running with a knife in hand. However, the shooting continued even after he fell down, apparently wounded and immobilized, with no one near him.
In the early morning hours of 4 Oct., an Israeli police officer shot and killed Fadi ‘Alun, 19. According to the police announcement, ‘Alun stabbed an Israeli youth, causing him moderate injury, before he was shot. Video footage of the shooting and some of what preceded it, filmed from two different angles, was shared online. The footage indicates that ‘Alun seemed to be holding a knife when he was shot, but no one was near him. A police officer is seen firing seven bullets at ‘Alun, although the latter fell to the ground after the first shot.
The wave of stabbing attacks against Israelis is shocking, and security forces must protect the public by apprehending Palestinians suspected of such actions. Security forces have the authority to use the minimal amount of force necessary to achieve that end, according to the circumstances, but law enforcement officers cannot act as both judges and executioners. In the two cases described above, there is cause for grave concern that the security forces shot the suspects not to stop them in their tracks, but to kill them. Given politicians’ support of such conduct and the public mood of condoning the killing of Palestinian suspects, such incidents are bound to recur.