By Ramona Wadi
In May, Israeli security forces killed Eyad Al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian man with special needs, on suspicion that he had a weapon. He was on his way to the special school in Jerusalem which he attended when he was chased by Israeli security forces, cornered and shot, despite being accompanied by his teacher who repeatedly called out to the aggressors that he was autistic. No weapon was discovered on Hallaq after this unwarranted extrajudicial killing.
Less than two months after Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz issued a perfunctory, patronizing apology in which he stated, “I am sure this subject will be investigated swiftly and conclusions will be reached,” recent reports attest to how rapidly Israel invokes its own impunity to cover up its crimes.
Eyad Al-Hallaq was killed in a heavily securitized area in Jerusalem’s Old City; security cameras monitoring the indigenous population are everywhere. However, Israel’s Justice Ministry has confirmed that there is no CCTV footage of the killing. It went on to assert that, despite the presence of cameras where the shooting took place, the cameras “were not connected at the relevant time and didn’t document” the incident.
This lacks even a shard of credibility, yet it is not unusual in Israel, which goes to great lengths to safeguard its own institutions and uniformed criminals from scrutiny and prosecution. The Hallaq family is now left with no recourse for justice, because Israel has created its own travesty of justice that is concerned solely with manufacturing impunity for those responsible for the 32-year-old’s death.
The investigation is close to reaching a conclusion, according to a Haaretz report, and there is no doubt that the bereaved family will be left to face a multitude of questions on its own, with the additional psychological trauma of knowing that the exact circumstances of their son’s murder are unresolved and the perpetrators still roam free. In Israel’s typical style, it will be an inconclusive end to a concluded investigation. The family’s lawyer, meanwhile, is requesting an in-depth investigation because there is a “very strong suspicion” that the police are concealing evidence in this case.
This is not the first time that Israel has refused to release evidence that would provide both context and corroboration. A case that springs to mind is that of Ibrahim Abu Thurayyah, a double amputee killed by a shot to the head in December 2017 during the Great Return March protests in the Gaza Strip. Israeli investigations concluded there was no evidence that one of its snipers had directly targeted Thurayyah while he was in his wheelchair.
Concealing evidence is a clear indication of culpability. For Israel, however, the practice is dissociative and is reflective of how colonial violence against Palestinians sustains itself. There is no need to deny culpability if action is taken to prevent any discussion of the crime. Indeed, in this case, it is easier for Israeli government officials to exploit the victim and the grieving family since the evidence of the events leading up to Eyad Al-Hallaq’s killing has been eliminated.
For the Hallaq family, as it was for other families whose relatives have been murdered by Israeli occupation forces, the killing and subsequent cover-up is a personal rupture. Politically, Israel is replicating the impunity generated since the Nakba on a different scale, relying upon separate episodes of inflicted trauma to prevent a collective Palestinian narrative from emerging as a unified front against its colonial violence.
– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.