Siham Rateb Nimir, the 49-year-old east Jerusalem woman who was shot dead by Border Police Wednesday afternoon after attempting to stab an officer near Damascus Gate with scissors, lost her son in a police shooting last September.
Shortly after midnight on September 5, police shot and killed her son Mustafa Nimir near Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp after he allegedly rammed his car into a group of officers stationed at the volatile area’s checkpoint.
Family members and friends of Nimir said he, his fiancée, cousin and friends were on their way to order pizza when the shooting took place.
According to police, the vehicle, driven by his brother- in-law, Ali Nimir, attempted to run down several officers, despite repeated warnings to stop. Claiming their lives were in imminent danger, Border Police officers responded by opening fire on the vehicle, shooting the driver and passenger, identified as Mustafa.
Mustafa, of Ramat Gan, was killed, and Ali sustained moderate injuries. After being hospitalized, he was arrested and charged with a litany of crimes, including manslaughter, for his brother-in-law’s death.
None of the officers were wounded, and police deemed the incident an attempted terrorist attack.
However, a video taken of the shooting airing on Channel 10 days later showed the officers firing on the vehicle after it stopped, conflicting with initial reports of what took place.
Moreover, Mustafa’s Jewish girlfriend, who traveled in a car directly behind him, told Channel 10 that bullets also struck her vehicle, adding that shooting stopped only after she identified herself as Jewish.
In the news segment, the girlfriend claimed that security officials visited Mustafa’s parent’s home and apologized for using excessive force.
“They said they understood that it wasn’t a terrorist attack, or anything like that,” she said in the piece. “That it was an accident. He was a good man.”
Following the report, dual probes by the Justice Ministry and police were launched to investigate if deadly force was warranted.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed the probes, but noted that such investigations are mandatory following all deadly shootings.
“There is an investigation taking place by the Justice Ministry and police, which is a standard procedure whenever there is a major incident, or shots are fired,” said Rosenfeld at the time.
“At the same time, the Jerusalem Police Department is questioning the driver, who is moderately injured, and we’re looking into all different directions to determine why he drove dangerously and directly toward the officers, who were under immediate threat.”
Although police initially charged Ali with manslaughter for the death of his cousin, following the probe, the charge was changed to negligent homicide.
He was also charged with endangering the lives of police; driving without a license; driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs; driving without insurance; and possession of a controlled substance.
Meanwhile, despite CCTV footage showing Siham Rateb Nimir clearly lunging with scissors at an officer on Wednesday shortly after 4 p.m., her relatives claim police used unnecessary force.
“We don’t exactly know what happened, but even if she posed any threat, the [police] could have easily controlled her, without using their weapons, especially the fatal shots,” her brother-in-law told Arab media.
Noting that the officer’s life was in imminent danger, Rosenfeld said the shooting – which took place in an area where over a dozen stabbings against police and Jews were carried out during the so-called “stabbing intifada” – was justified.
“We have confirmed that it was a terrorist attack, and the Border Police officer responded at the scene properly,” he said.