The official Israeli version of an incident last Friday, in which a Palestinian motorist from East Jerusalem was killed by Israeli border officers after a motor vehicle accident, has been challenged by a new report released today by the Israeli paper Haaretz.According to the new report, witnesses say that the motorist accidentally hit a group of Israeli border officers walking on the road, and was then killed in revenge by the other officers.
The witnesses reported that the motorist, 39-year old Ziad Jilani, was lying prone on the ground when the officers shot him in the face at point-bank range after kicking him in the head.
The incident took place in the Wadi Joz neighborhood, an area of increased tension since Israeli authorities declared it to be part of a planned expansion of Jewish settlements in what has historically been a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
According to witnesses, a number of Israeli border officers on horseback and on foot entered the Palestinian neighborhood on Friday afternoon as Muslim prayers were getting out, creating a tense situation in the midst of heavy traffic. Jilani was driving along the heavily-trafficked road when some Palestinian youth began throwing stones at the officers.
Two witnesses said they saw one of the stones hit Jilani’s front windshield, causing him to swerve to the left and hit the officers. The officers began firing at Jilani, who drove away and pulled into an alley nearby, where they continued to pursue him, firing their weapons.
A witness who lives along the alley said she saw the vehicle pull in, and saw Jilani get out with the officers close behind him. She told a reporter from Haaretz, ‘There was shooting and I started to scream. My mother ran toward me and threw me to the ground. Everything happened within seconds. I realized he wasn’t walking normally, and saw the shattered windshield of the car, maybe from a stone. He ran until he fell over. He got out of the car, and they came after him. Not just one of them shot, but many of them, and then they started yelling in Hebrew for people to go back into their homes.” She said she saw the officers kicking Jilani in the head and then shooting him twice with rifles at close range, killing him.
A spokesman for the border police refused to comment on the eyewitness reports, instead claiming that the striking of the officers was an intentional act by Jilani, and that ‘Individuals have been killed and dozens wounded in vehicle attacks in Jerusalem between 2008 and 2009 … All of those attacks were committed by East Jerusalem residents, and in each case those close to the perpetrators described the incidents as ‘accidents.’”
Jilani was married with three daughters. His widow is a US citizen.