On Saturday, Israeli police shot and killed an Arab Israeli who they said grabbed a policeman’s gun and fired it in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The man killed was identified as Mohammed al-Assibi, a 26-year-old medical student who lived in Houra, a Bedouin town in southern Israel. His family rejected the police version and demanded to see surveillance camera footage, according to local media. There is no image according to the font.
The suspect allegedly grabbed a police officer’s weapon
The incident took place around midnight (9 p.m. GMT Friday) near the Chain Gate, one of the accesses to the Esplanade of the Mosques, in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian sector of the Holy City, annexed by Israel.
Police arrested a ‘suspect’ and while he was being questioned, ‘the terrorist suddenly attacked’ one of them, grabbed his gun and fired, police said in a statement. .
The police “who were in danger, fought with the terrorist and shot him”, added the police, adding that doctors had then pronounced his death. At around 1 a.m. (10 p.m. GMT Friday), an AFP photographer saw a large number of Israeli policemen deployed in the alleys of the Old City.
The police version contradicted by witnesses
The Israeli Arab Raam party (moderate Islamist), represented in parliament, also rejected the police version, noting on Facebook where posts by “witnesses” claim that the incident took place when Assibi was helping a woman arguing with the police.
The leader of this formation, Mansour Abbas, disputed the police response that there was no CCTV footage of the incident. “It’s an attempt to hide the reality,” he added on Twitter, calling for the immediate opening of an investigation. This Saturday, two Bedouin towns in southern Israel, Rahat and Tel Sheva, joined Houra in observing a general strike in protest at the death of Assibi, according to Israeli media.
The police maintained their version of events and released another statement saying that “the attack itself was not recorded by security cameras or those carried by the police”. She also dismissed the fact that a woman was involved in the incident, saying that Assibi had “arrived alone”.
A delicate period
The tragedy occurred after a huge crowd of Palestinian worshipers gathered on Friday on the esplanade of the Mosques for the great midday prayer on the occasion of the second Friday of Ramadan.
Israeli police, who guard the entrances to the esplanade, said more than 100,000 worshipers had gathered there and more than 2,000 police had been mobilized across the city.
In recent weeks, several foreign chancelleries have expressed concern about possible violence as the Christian and Jewish Easter falls this year during Ramadan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has experienced a new outbreak of violence since the beginning of the year, including the intensity has dropped significantly over the past week.
The third holiest site in Islam, the Esplanade des Mosques is built on what the Jews call the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism.