Religious Jews pray at the Western Wall.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday convicted former security guard Hadi Kabalan, “The Kotel shooter,” of murdering 46-year-old Doron Ben-Chelouche during his June 21, 2013, visit to the Western Wall.
The prosecution told judges Zvi Segal, Ben-Tzion Greenberger and Arnon Darel in January 2014 that Kabalan had previously met his victim, potentially negating the defense that he might have confused him with being a Muslim terrorist and proving that Kabalan had murdered Ben- Chelouche in cold blood.
The indictment, filed on July 4, 2013, said Kabalan and another guard checked Ben-Chelouche at the security checkpoint when he arrived at the Western Wall area, as he did on a daily basis.
After the check, Ben-Chelouche yelled at the two security guards and used a racial slur against them for being Druse.
The security guards continued their work, during which Kabalan asked two other guards if they would give him NIS 1,000 if he killed Ben-Chelouche and said, “I’ll kill him.”
When Ben-Chelouche walked by the checkpoint later, Kabalan followed him into a nearby clearing near the bathrooms, and when he was meters away opened fire.
Kabalan fired at the center of Ben- Chelouche’s body 14 times, while coming closer and closer to him, and did not stop firing until his magazine was empty.
The police originally thought the shooting may have been the result of a case of mistaken identity.
Kabalan had said he shot Ben-Chelouche to death because the 46-year-old shouted “Allahu akbar” and reached into his pocket, thus leading him to believe that Ben- Chelouche was a terrorist with a bomb.
But none of the witnesses nearby heard Ben-Chelouche call out “Allahu akbar,” and all of the testimony from regulars in the area indicated that while Ben-Chelouche was a controversial character, he was completely benign.
The court noted that the place where Kabalan shot Ben-Chelouche was a clearing empty of people, making it seem unlikely that Ben-Chelouche appeared to be about to blow himself up, if his goal were to kill many people.
Next, the court rejected the idea that other aspects of Ben-Chelouche’s appearance and accessories, which Kabalan said he thought indicated Ben-Chelouche had a bomb, could reasonably indicate his being a terrorist or justify Kabalan’s shooting him.