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Missing video footage casts doubt on police shooting of ‘terror suspect’ in Jerusalem

TJI Pick
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Published: 4 April 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Police say a Bedouin man tried to grab their gun, witnesses deny it and the CCTV footage is strangely absent.

Israeli security forces shot and killed a man in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday night after he attempted to take an officer’s weapon, police said.

But witnesses and family members denied the police version of events, saying that the man was “killed in cold blood”.

The shooting has sparked a general strike across Israel’s Arab community and calls for an independent inquiry by Amnesty Israel.

Mohammed Elasibi, 26, a recent medical graduate and resident of the Bedouin town of Houra in southern Israel, was killed near the flashpoint Temple Mount as security forces were on alert during the sensitive Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police said Elasibi was stopped by officers for questioning when he attacked one of them, grabbed his firearm, and managed to fire off two shots during a struggle.

 Mohammed Elasibi
 Mohammed Elasibi

But witnesses told media that Elasibi did not pose a danger to the officers and that 10 shots were heard during the shooting.

His family called for the release of video footage of the incident, but police say there is no footage, a claim that has been questioned by a former police officer who was responsible for setting up security cameras in the areas, as well as an Arab MK and Amnesty Israel.

 “I don’t see the possibility that there is no police documentation. I personally placed the array of security cameras there,” former Jerusalem police chief Yair Itzhaki said.

The head of the Ra’am party, Mansour Abbas, also demanded the immediate release of the footage: “I don’t believe the police version that there is no documentation from the security cameras. There is an attempt to cover up and hide the truth.”

Police Chief Kobo Shabtai said he had no doubt that the incident had been a terror attack.

Israel's Institute of Forensic Medicine found Elasibi’s DNA on the police pistol that he had allegedly taken from an officer.

A police statement said: “Every security camera in the area was checked, and unfortunately the attack itself was not filmed by security cameras or by body cameras on the officers who were fighting off the terrorist and subduing him at that moment.

“Contrary to false reports … every inch of land in the Old City/Temple Mount is not being filmed by security cameras. As such, the attack did not occur in the outer area of the Chain Gate, which is indeed well documented, but in the internal area, in a dead zone.”

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department is looking into the incident to decide whether it warrants an investigation.

Police: Man shot dead while trying to grab Jerusalem officer’s gun; family denies claim (Times of Israel)

Police Chief says ‘no doubt’ Bedouin tried to commit terror attack; Arabs to hold general strike across Israel (Haaretz)

Ex-police officials: ‘Hard to believe’ disputed deadly Jerusalem shooting not on CCTV (Times of Israel)

'He's no terrorist': Family denies police claims of terror attack in Old City (Jerusalem Post)

 Amnesty Israel calls for independent probe of Bedouin man's death on Temple Mount (Jerusalem Post)

Thousands participate in funeral procession of Bedouin killed by Israeli Forces (Haaretz)

Police say DNA found on cop’s gun proves Old City incident was terrorism (Times of Israel)

Three soldiers injured in West Bank ramming attack, IDF says; assailant shot dead (Times of Israel)
One victim seriously hurt, another in moderate condition and a third lightly injured; attacker identified as officer in PA security services

Shooting attack on northern kibbutz (Haaretz)
No injuries reported after homes hit by bullets in Ma'ale Gilboa, near Beit She'an

Photo: A mass prayer at Mohammed Elasibi’s funeral in Houra on Sunday (Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

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