State Attorney Decides Not to Appeal Acquittal of the Officer Who Killed Eyad al-Hallaq

Adalah: The decision reflects the role of the State Attorney and the Police Investigation Department in Israel's sweeping policy of total impunity in the extrajudicial killing of Palestinians by police officers.

Today, Monday, 4 September 2023, the State Attorney's Office informed the family of Eyad al-Hallaq of their decision not to appeal the Jerusalem District Court's ruling that acquitted the Border Police officer who killed their son, in May 2020. Al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old autistic Palestinian man, was shot dead by an Israeli Border Police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City on 30 May 2020, while he was making his way to the special needs school where he both worked and studied.


In October 2020, following a Police Investigation Department (PID) (known as “Mahash”) investigation, it was announced that the police officer who shot Eyal al-Hallaq would face reckless manslaughter charges. This is a rare occurrence as Mahash investigations almost never result in criminal charges against Israeli forces. The investigation also failed to recommend charges against the commanding officer. However, on 6 July 2023, the Jerusalem District Court fully acquitted the Israeli Border Police officer who killed Eyad of reckless manslaughter charges, accepting his claim of self-defense.


The announcement from the State Attorney's Office comes after a meeting held yesterday between Eyad al-Hallaq's parents, accompanied by Attorney Khaled Zabarqa, and Adalah Attorneys Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi and Adi Mansour, with representatives of PID, the criminal division of the State Attorney’s office, along with the Deputy State Attorney Shlomo (Mumi) Lemberger at his office in Jerusalem.


During the meeting, the family's attorneys emphasized the critical flaws in the District Court's ruling and the grave consequences, which necessitate an appeal to the Supreme Court. The ruling contains legal and normative determinations based solely on the subjective feelings of police officers, thereby allowing for a complete lack of accountability on the part of the police in their interactions with citizens and residents. The lawyers further emphasized that the decision broadens the application of the right of self-defense when it concerns police officers to legally sanction unrestrained lethal force based on ‘perceived danger’ by individual police officers.


The State Attorney’s office’s decision not to appeal was communicated to Eyad’s parents merely two days before the final deadline for submitting appeal (which is until September 6th). The family, together with their attorneys Khaled Zabarqa, Meezaan Organization for Human Rights, and Adalah, are currently considering filing a petition to the supreme court against the decision.


In response to the State Attorney's Office's announcement, the legal team representing the parents of Eyad al-Hallaq commented:


The decision of the State Attorney’s office perpetuates Israel's systemic policy of near-blanket impunity for its police and other armed forces when they kill and injure Palestinians, and sanctions this impunity in its legal system. The District Court's ruling, grounded entirely in the police officer's subjective 'perceived danger' and the police officers' misunderstanding of the situation, absolves the officer of criminal liability, as the court concluded that his actions were reasonable given the circumstances. This ruling signals to all officers of Israel's armed forces that they will not be held accountable for any unlawful killings, and serves as a manual on how to retroactively justify their actions. Any police officer who has executed a Palestinian now understands that he can legitimize his heinous actions by simply informing the court that he felt threatened and that there were intelligence alerts of terrorist activities. The District Court approved the continuation of Israel's policy of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians by police officers - further reinforced by the decision of the State Attorney's Office not to appeal.”


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