Protests broke out in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as in some cities in Israel, on June 2, Tuesday, against the killing of Iyad Hallaq. 32-year-old Hallaq, a disabled man, was shot dead by Israeli border police on May 30. Protests were reported from occupied East Jerusalem, Haifa, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported.
Hallaq, who was diagnosed with autism, was killed while trying to run away from an Israeli police checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem. He was shot more than 10 times by Israeli police officers and was left to die, bleeding on the ground.
Chants of “Palestinians lives matter” reverberated in the protests, inspired by the protests in the US against the murder of George Floyd in the city of Minnesota. Drawing comparisons between the two deaths, protesters were seen holding banners and placards reading ‘Palestinian lives matter’, ‘Black lives matter’, ‘Justice for Eyad’ and ‘Justice for George. People displayed posters and sketches of Hallaq and condemned the Israeli police for his death.
In Haifa, protesters carried photos and banners with names of other Palestinians who have been killed by the Israeli police and military in the past. In 2019 alone, at least 132 Palestinians died at the hands of Israeli security forces, according to the United Nations (UN). The previous year’s figure stood at 296. Around 20 Palestinians have already been shot and killed by Israeli forces so far in 2020.
In a related development, one of the Israeli police officers involved in the killing of Hallaq was released from police custody on Tuesday and was placed under house arrest. The commanding officer of the policeman in question was also released from custody. The release of the two police officers was also heavily denounced by Palestinian activists and human rights groups, who have demanded an investigation into the killing, terming it a ‘cold blooded murder’.
Earlier, in the face of massive criticism, Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz apologized for the killing on May 31. During the Israeli cabinet’s weekly meeting, Gantz said, “We are really sorry about the incident in which Eyad Halak was shot to death and we share in the family’s grief.”
However, without any proper redressal for the crime or justice for the victim, the apology seems like another way to brush the killing under the carpet, making it seem like a one-off incident.