A Palestinian man wanted on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack fell to his death from a rooftop late Sunday night as he fled from police in Kalandiya, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, the Israel Police announced – an account disputed by a witness.
Border Police spokesman Shay Hakhimi said the incident took place as officers from the special Yamas unit arrived to arrest two terrorist suspects. In a statement Monday morning, the Border Police said the two “were planning a terrorist attack on the Israeli home front.”
Hakhimi said that one of the two suspects was arrested, but that Muhammad Abu Latifa, 19, fled to the roof of the building, where officers shot and wounded him in the legs. Abu Latifa kept trying to flee, however, and fell from the roof to his death while apparently trying to reach an adjoining building.
Hakhimi said that, according to Border Police protocol, the use of force in this case appears justified, since it involved a terrorist suspect fleeing arrest, who was shot in a non-fatal area of the body.
But Shahdi Awad, who lives in a neighboring building and who said he saw the incident, told Reuters Abu Latifa was shot dead before falling off the roof.
“He was shot repeatedly on the rooftop, and that’s where he stayed until the soldiers came and took down the body,” he said.
Palestinians who saw Abu Latifa said he had gunshot wounds in his legs but no sign of other wounds. Palestinian doctors said his family refused permission for an autopsy.
The Israel Police spokeswoman, Luba Samri, said, “He [Awad] can say whatever he wants. Our account is what happened.”
Kalandiya residents said Abu Latifa was a member of the Fatah political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but that they had no knowledge of him having any affiliation with armed factions within the party.
Several hundred mourners attended Abu Latifa’s funeral Monday afternoon. Masked gunmen shot their rifles in the air as mourners chanted and marched through the streets of Kalandiya carrying the deceased on a stretcher.