Israeli police have shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian near the Old City in occupiedEast Jerusalem.
The slain man, 32-year-old Iyad el-Hallak, attended and worked at a school for people with special needs in the Old City, close to the spot where he was shot on Saturday morning, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
A relative, who spoke to The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity, said el-Hallak was mentally disabled and was heading to the school.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the officers “spotted a suspect with a suspicious object that looked like a pistol. They called upon him to stop and began to chase after him on foot, during the chase officers also opened fire at the suspect.”
Rosenfeld added that no gun was found in the area.
Following the shooting, Israeli police sealed off the Old City and local media reported that medics were barred from entering the area.
“[Palestinians] said he was shot by several bullets and that he was left on the ground bleeding for a while until he died,” Wafa said.
The police also raided el-Hallak’s home in the neighbourhood of Wadi Joz, where members of his family were questioned.
Israeli daily Haaretz said el-Hallak’s family members denied claims that he was carrying a gun, and quoted them as saying “he wasn’t capable of harming anyone”.
They said el-Hallak’s body was transferred to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv, which holds bodies of Palestinians killed in alleged attacks on Israelis, adding that the authorities have not provided them with further details.
The institute is notoriously known as the place where Palestinian organs and body parts have been harvested.
The shooting came a day after Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah who they alleged had tried to ram them with his vehicle. No Israelis were wounded in either incident.
A number of local and international human rights groups have raised concerns that Israeli security forces have used excessive force when confronting Palestinians who carried out attacks or were suspected of doing so.
The incidents come as Israel presses ahead with plans to annex large parts of the West Bank in line with US President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East plan, which strongly favours Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians.
The plan gives Israel the green light to annex Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, and strategic areas of the West Bank.
For much of the international community, such a move by Israel would amount to a grave violation of international law and crush hopes of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) said last week it was no longer bound by past agreements with Israel and the US and was cutting off all ties, including long-standing security coordination – a controversial practice that has repeatedly been criticised by Palestinian rights groups.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza – besieged since 2007 – during the six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967.
Palestinian leaders want the territories to be part of their future state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, while Israel considers the entire city of Jerusalem to be its capital.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES