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Israeli PM says police killing of Palestinian a ‘tragedy

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the recent police killing of an autistic Palestinian man was unjustified and a “tragedy”, offering his condolences to the bereaved family.

Israeli police shot 32-year-old Iyak Hallak in Jerusalem on May 30 while he was walking to his special needs school, after officers mistakenly thought he was armed.

“What happened with Iyad Hallak is a tragedy. This is a man with limitations — autism — who was under suspicion, we know, wrongly, of being a terrorist in a very sensitive location,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

The killing happened near Lions’ Gate in the alleys of the walled Old City, where Hallak had attended school for six years.

“We all offer our condolences to the family, I think this is shared by the entire Israeli public, as well as the entire Israeli government,” Netanyahu said.

The premier added that he awaited the outcome of an investigation into the shooting.

Thousands of mourners massed for Hallak’s funeral, while online the hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter echoed the fury being seen at mass protests against police violence and racism in the United States.

Hallak’s slaying prompted condolence visits from Israelis, including lawmakers from the Arab-led Joint List, Jerusalem’s chief rabbi and Yehudah Glick, a right-wing former member of parliament.

Glick is dedicated to increasing Jewish presence at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, in the Old City. The location is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

Glick, who survived a 2014 assassination attempt over his Jerusalem activities, said he was attacked Thursday when exiting the Hallak mourning tent in an attempted “murderous lynching” attack and sustained light wounds.

Speaking on Sunday, Netanyahu said the killing of Hallak “does not justify the wild attack on former MP Glick”.

“I’m sure justice will be done here too,” the premier said.

Police arrested one person in connection with the attack and released him to house arrest while the investigation continued.


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