illegal pal workers.
(photo credit: Rafael D. Frankel)
It seemed to be an open and shut case: early Wednesday morning a Palestinian working illegally in Jaffa panicked when caught by police, and tried to grab a policeman's gun, which misfired, killing him. But within a few hours, the policeman broke under questioning and confessed that the worker did not attack the policeman who shot and killed him.
The incident occurred around 8 a.m. as members of the Border Police's Ofir Unit conducted an operation to apprehend Palestinians illegally working in Israel in the area surrounding Jaffa's Flea Market. The unit is stationed in Tel Aviv to reinforce the police presence in the city.
For reasons still unclear, one of the members of the unit, a 19-year-old carrying out his mandatory national service in the Border Police, cocked his weapon, which fired, killing one of the workers. MDA teams arrived at the scene of the shooting, but their attempts to resuscitate the worker failed, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The man killed, a 29-year-old resident of Tarkumiya, near Hebron, was working on a nearby construction site. Neither he nor his brother, who was working with him, had permits to work in Israel. `
Due to the circumstances of the case, the investigation into the incident was immediately turned over to a team from the Justice Department's Police Investigative Division [PID]. PID investigators rushed to the usually crowded market, and gathered material evidence and eyewitness testimony from the scene of the shooting.
The policeman whose gun fired initially told investigators that the Palestinian had attacked him and tried to wrest control of his firearm. In the course of the scuffle, the policeman claimed, the gun went off, shooting the worker.
But eyewitnesses and material evidence at the scene led investigators to believe that the story that they had been told was false. Under questioning, the policeman admitted to loading his weapon without any prior instigation by the Palestinian worker or his companions. The policeman involved in the shooting was arrested, and following his questioning was released to house arrest.
PID sources said that the investigation into the incident had already entered advanced stages and that the evidence pointed to illegal use of a firearm on the part of the policeman that caused the man's death. The investigation is expected to be completed in coming days, at which point the PID squad will turn the evidence over to the District Attorney's office in order to build a case against the policeman.