Skip to main content

Israeli officer who killed unarmed autistic Palestinian 'was promoted'

Border police officer who shot Iyad al-Halak is facing a court case over the incident
A mural depicting Eyad Halak, a 32-year-old Palestinian man who was shot dead by Israeli police in May 2020 (AFP)
A mural depicting Iyad al-Halak, a 32-year-old Palestinian man who was shot dead by Israeli police in May 2020 (AFP)

An Israeli police officer who shot dead Iyad al-Halak, a Palestinian with autism, in occupied East Jerusalem in May 2020, was promoted this week despite facing a court case over the killing, it has emerged.

The officer, who belongs to the border police and whose name is under a gag order, shot Halak, 32, claiming he suspected the Palestinian of carrying a weapon. However Halak was unarmed, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prompted to apologise to his family in a rare move by an Israeli official.

On Monday, Israeli media reported that the police officer who killed Halak was promoted and recently made an operation sergeant in a base for Israel Border Police in Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

The police officer is currently facing a case at the Jerusalem district court on charges of recklessly killing Halak, and could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Halak's family had previously criticised the Israeli authorities' investigation into his killing and called for much tougher charges.

Halak was wearing a mask while on his way to a school for people with disabilities in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem when he began to be chased by Israeli police officers and was shot.

In November, the police commissioner said he supported the officer who shot Halak.

"It is important for me to say that we are the ones who sent the fighter on the mission, and we have the responsibility to stand by his side even in these circumstances," Kobi Shabtai said. 

Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Jewish supremacist MP recently appointed national security minister, who oversees the police and border police, has also previously expressed his support for the officer.

In August 2021, Halak's family accused police of deliberately "destroying cameras" that had evidence of the killing. The investigation into his shooting has been hampered by the lack of video evidence, despite reports that the area where he was killed had at least 10 CCTV cameras.

Halak's shooting in 2020 also garnered international solidarity, as it coincided with protests following the US police killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter marches.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.