The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on Tuesday, stressed that Israel must swiftly develop to a full, independent, impartial, competent and transparent investigation into Israeli forces’ killing of a Palestinian man with a mental disability in Jerusalem, stating that: “those responsible must be held to account.”
A press statement issued by OHCHR said that the United Nations has for years documented and publicly reported on the routine use of lethal force by Israeli Security Forces against Palestinians, in Gaza and in the West Bank.
There are very low levels of accountability for the use of force by Israeli security forces against Palestinians, with a handful of indictments in relation to hundreds of killings over the past five years, said the statement.
OHCHR said that the use of force that does not comply with those principles and results in the death amounts to an arbitrary deprivation of life. Security forces in policing operations must use the least force possible to address any situation. “Non-lethal means in the case of Eyad would have saved his life”.
“International law is clear: law enforcement officials may only resort to lethal force when strictly necessary, meaning as a response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and in accordance with the principle of proportionality.”
Secrecy around rules of engagement does not allow an independent assessment of their compliance with Israel’s obligations under international law, nor the compliance with the rules by the security force personnel in the case of Eyad. Where lethal force appears to be routinely the first rather than the last resort, the killing of people like Eyad is likely to occur, mistaken or otherwise, said the statement.
“While lessons must be learned from Eyad’s killing, the primary response must be accountability.”
The UN Human Rights Office extended its condolences to the family and friends of Eyad.
Eyad al-Hallaq, who suffered from a partial movement disability and was mentally disabled, was walking from his home in Wadi al-Joz neighbourhood to a vocational training centre for persons with special needs, few hundred meters away, in Jerusalem’s Old City.
He had been tracing the same path every morning to the centre for six years. Monitoring by the UN Human Rights Office suggests Eyad was shouted at by Israeli Security Forces.
Because of his disability he panicked and ran, hiding in a dumpsite and called for his teacher, who was nearby. While events are still to be fully clarified, it appears Eyad was killed by shots of live ammunition to the upper body while he was on the ground.
Israeli Security Forces personnel involved, claimed they suspected he was carrying a gun. No weapon appears to have been found.