'Fake gun or not, I know I did the right thing'

"I'm not afraid for my life," says Border Patrol officer who killed Palestinian teen, after receiving online death threats.

By
December 13, 2012 13:44
3 minute read.
Border police officer

Border police officer 370. (photo credit: Border Police spokesman )

 
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The border policewoman who fatally shot a Palestinian teen in Hebron on Wednesday is content with how she performed her duty, even as it emerged that Muhammad al- Salaymeh was armed only with a toy pistol.

“It didn’t change it for me, because in those same moments you don’t have time to think or be confused. For me it was a real pistol in every sense of the word pointed at my soldier and it’s my responsibility to act, because if I don’t kill him my friend will be killed, and I won’t let this happen,” said “N.” on Thursday.

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“After they investigated the incident it turned out it was a fake gun, but it didn’t change how I felt about it. I’m happy this ended with no injuries on our side and I’m sure any other officer in my situation would have done what I did,” she added.

N. said that she had only moments to react and instantly got in position, finding a clear line of fire before letting off three shots into Salaymeh.

By Thursday morning, pro- Palestinian Web forums were awash with un-pixilated photos of N. (whose identity is blocked from publication in Israel by the military censor) with her full name included. A number of these forums, including at least one Facebook page, were flooded with threats and calls for revenge against the policewoman.

When asked if she was worried about the death threats, she said, “I managed to take a look at them here and there, but I’m not afraid. Of course they’d write things like this so I’d feel bad about what happened, but I know I did the right thing. This is what they taught us, to fire at the terrorist in order to neutralize them, fake gun or not.”

N., who serves in the Hebron area as a Border Police commander, said she was showered with complements by commanding officers and that although she is supposed to finish her service in a year and a half, after last night she is considering reenlisting and applying to be an officer.

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With tensions high in the West Bank after the incident, which followed a series of violent encounters between security forces and Palestinians this week, N. said she is not afraid that someone will try to hurt her out in the field or in her civilian life.

“This is our mission, and if we face a threat we know how to deal with it. All of us, the police, Border Police, IDF, we’re all in this together to protect the Jewish residents and our country. Maybe there are threats here or there but it doesn’t bother me.”

Police said on Wednesday that around 6:30 p.m., Salaymeh, who was celebrating his 17th birthday, was walking near a Border Police post near the Tomb of the Patriarchs when he caught the attention of the police. After police asked him for his ID he began fighting with an officer, and pulled out a pistol and pointing it at the officer. He was then shot by N., and only later did police determine the pistol was a fake.

Judea and Samaria Police have opened an investigation.

Riots broke out at the scene after the shooting, as well as elsewhere in the West Bank. The IDF and the Israel Police went on high alert and are expecting violence to pick up in the West Bank.

While Israeli media initially described Salaymeh as a terrorist, Palestinians on Twitter claimed him as an innocent “martyr” killed by the Border Police for no reason.

On Thursday, Palestinians on Twitter posted a photograph of the smiling Salaymeh sitting by a birthday cake earlier in the day.

It has been widely reported that Salaymeh’s brother is Awad Salima Ziyad Awad, who was arrested on December 17, 1993, and convicted of murder during a hostile act, attempted murder, throwing a Molotov cocktail and membership in a banned organization.

Awad was released in October 2011 in the first phase of the Schalit deal.

After the shooting on Thursday, Border Police commander Maj.-Gen. Amos Yaakov praised the conduct of N. and her comrades, saying that they showed “the professionalism and determination that is expected of Border Police fighters.”

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