A general strike was called for Sunday across the Arab sector, after a 22-year-old Kafr Kana man was shot and killed by police in the village Friday night.
The strike was called by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee hours after a surveillance video of the incident emerged that appeared to contradict the police depiction of events. Police said Saturday morning a 22-year-old Kafr Kana man, Kheir a-Din Hamdan, tried to attack officers with a knife and was shot because officers feared for their lives. Police said that they fired a warning shot in the air first.
The film of the incident shows a man approaching a police van and appearing to strike two of its side windows with an object.
The suspect is seen walking off as an officer emerges from the vehicle and aims a gun at the suspect, whose back is to him. The man falls to the ground, apparently shot, and then two other policemen emerge from the vehicle.
It is unclear which officer shot Hamdan, and it does not appear that a warning shot was fired.
In a longer version of the video, Hamdan can be seen still moving as officers pick him up and place his body in the patrol vehicle.
He was then taken to Emek Medical Center in Afula, where he died soon after.
Northern District police said that they were on the scene to arrest a man in his 20s on suspicion of throwing a stun grenade, when another man with a knife came and tried to stab them.
After the video emerged on Saturday, police said they had no further statement and the matter has been transferred to the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigation Department.
Hamdan was buried in the village on Saturday night in a funeral attended by thousands.
Earlier in the day, protesters took to the streets of the village and dozens of youths threw rocks at police and burned tires. Clashes were reported elsewhere in the Arab sector following the emergence of the video.
MKs on the Right said the police officers’ response was justified, while some on the Left called it murder.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said: “A crazed Arab terrorist attacked a police car with a knife, in an attempt to murder the officers inside. The officers’ reaction is what is expected from our security men.
“This is not a murder in cold blood and we certainly should not abandon the people who are sent to defend us,” he added. “If we do not back them, more and more Israelis will be murdered by knives, firecrackers and vehicular attacks.”
Still, Bennett said such incidents must always be investigated.
Construction Minister Uri Ariel blamed the attack on the government’s policies in Jerusalem, positing that “whoever believes in containment in Jerusalem will, in the end, have to deal with terrorism in Kafr Kana.”
Ariel called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to change strategies and instruct security forces to go from containment to the offensive to eradicate Arab terrorism.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On called for Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to investigate the shooter, as well as Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch for saying that “a terrorist who harms civilians is sentenced to death.”
According to Gal-On, Aharonovitch justified murder and gave an illegal command in his statement.
“The norms of occupation and police assassinations from the territories and Jerusalem threaten Israeli Arabs,” she said.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) said the police officers murdered Hamdan in cold blood, while he did not pose any danger to them.
“This is a street-gang-style assassination. I call to arrest the shooter and put him on trial,” Tibi stated.
MK Moshe Mizrahi (Labor), a former police commander, said the incident should be probed as soon as possible, especially since it was filmed.
“This is a difficult incident with a harsh result that took place during a fragile time,” he stated. “I call on politicians and Arab MKs to stop adding fuel to the fire with irresponsible statements taking advantage of the incident, while ignoring the fact that the man who was killed ran at the police officers with a knife, unprovoked. We must wait for the results of the investigation to find out if the severe outcome [of the incident] was justified.”
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said that the video shows the incident “was an execution in every sense of the word and that the young man did not pose a threat to the lives of the officers when they shot and killed him.”
Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah called the incident a test for Jewish-Arab relations and called for leaders on both sides to show responsibility.
Shelah said “the dark deal in which in Arab towns there are different rules and civic duties on the one hand and the police’s behavior on the other must stop. Since June, we have seen unbridled speech from public representatives who, instead of trying to bring calm, are gaining cheap popularity through provocative statements and negating the legitimacy of one-fifth of Israeli citizens.”
According to Shelah, this is the time to examine the situation, before it becomes painfully explosive once again.
“The police must investigate the shooting of Kheir a-Din Hamdan quickly, thoroughly and without bias,” he stated.
“Despite his violent charging at the police car, what we saw in the media raises serious questions.”
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino ordered the force to go on its second- highest level of alertness, beginning on Sunday.
He slammed what he said were “baseless, irresponsible” attacks on police regarding the Kafr Kana incident and said the police gives its full backing to its officers.
“There are no separate police policies for one sector or another,”said Danino.
“Enforcement is equal, professional and fair.”
He added that he has instructed officers to continue their dialogue with Arab leaders in order to stop extremists and opportunists from inflaming the situation.
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