Internal Affairs Dep’t Under Fire After Investigating Officers Who Shot Terrorist Dead

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Israeli policeman stands guard near Damascus Gate to the Old City of Yerushalayim, Motzoei Shabbos. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Internal Affairs department is facing mass criticism from the political and professional echelons after it summoned for investigation the two Border Police who shot dead an armed terrorist on Shabbos in Yerushalayim’s Old City.

The two were securing the Damascus Gate area when an Arab terrorist stabbed and wounded an Israeli Jew. The two fired at the terrorist who fell to the ground. On the ground, and still armed with the knife, he moved and appeared to try and get up. The troops fired at him again.

The two were summoned by Internal Affairs on Motzoei Shabbos for an investigation under warning.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was updated on the findings of the preliminary investigation and stated that “the Border Police officers took the quick and determined action expected of police officers against a terrorist who tried to murder an Israeli civilian. I would like to extend to them full backing. This is how our officers are expected to act and this is how they acted. We cannot allow our capital city to become a focal point of terrorism,” stated Bennett.

Police chief Yaakov Shabtai called to expedite the investigation of the incident and stated he fully backs the troops.

Shabtai noted that previous terror attacks have “taught us that we must bring about the complete neutralization of a terrorist during an event and that is exactly what the Border Police fighters did in a quick and determined response to the attack on the civilian and an attempt to harm them.”

He further noted that “in a terrorist incident the fighters and policemen are required to make a decision in a split second and they made the right decision.”

“These soldiers are not alone. I give full backing to their activities and we as the police will stand by them, help and assist in whatever is required,” he declared.

“Anyone who seeks to harm police officers and civilians should know he is a dead man,” he concluded.

At the end of their interrogation, the two troops were released without conditions and returned to their unit.

Facing the criticism, the State Attorney’s Office unusually announced that the investigation is a regular procedure after every incident in which a terrorist is shot.

The State Attorney’s Office clarified that “when a civilian is killed as a result of police gunfire, Internal Affairs conducts an investigation. This is a regular and routine procedure, and therefore the existence of the investigation does not cast doubt on the conduct of the police officers in the incident.”

Internal Affairs further stated that “it is its duty in such incidents to strictly observe the requirements of the law and to balance the vital need to protect any human life and the duty to allow police fighters to effectively, fearlessly, protect public life from hostile elements, while recognizing that the police officer involved in a terrorist attack or life-threatening incident exercises judgment and makes decisions usually within seconds, in the midst of a stirring event and out of a sense of urgency.”

“In this case, too, Internal Affirms investigators performed their duties with the required professionalism and sensitivity, and a decision will be made at the end of the investigation and after examining all the circumstances,” it said.