The commander of the Asher District of Israel Police told Army Radio on Tuesday that he supports the police officer who shot and killed a mentally ill Arab-Israeli man in Haifa after the man allegedly attempted to stab police on Monday.
"I'm backing up the cop who fired. A man tried to slit his throat, his life was in significant danger and he shot to save himself," commander Benny Abelia said. "I hear in the media claims that the hand of the police is light on the trigger - this is not true at all."Later on Tuesday, Public Security Amir Ohana joined Abelia in backing up the involved officer, saying that the officer "acted exactly as expected of him," and adding that "every police officer should know that they will always be backed up in incidents that include taking actions to protect their own lives."
Police shot and killed a 33-year-old man in Haifa after he attempted to stab officers who were called to the scene by his parents after he became unruly in his home.
When police arrived at the scene, Munir Anabtawi pulled out a knife and tried to stab the officers, injuring one of them slightly, according to police, although his family denied that this was the case to Israeli media.
Shairin, Anabtawi’s sister, told KAN news that he did not have anything in his hand and was not trying to stab police when he was shot. “We saw the knife on the table,” she said. “He put it on the table and got down to wait for me. He was running away from them.” His family claimed that he was mentally disabled.
A statement issued by the family later on Monday blamed police for using poor judgment and acting in an unprofessional manner.Security camera footage from the scene showed Anabtawi fighting with an officer with a knife in his hand before he was shot.
תיעוד ממצלמות האבטחה: ענבתאווי רודף עם סכין אחרי השוטר, שיורה בו אחרי מאבק(אורלי אלקלעי) pic.twitter.com/rB05Wl4Hca— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 29, 2021
The Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP) has opened an investigation into the incident.
The incident is the latest in a series of killings of Arab-Israelis since the beginning of this year in which police gunfire was involved, with four Arab-Israelis killed in incidents involving police gunfire so far in 2021.
According to the Abraham Initiatives organization, 22 Arab-Israelis and six Arabs who were not citizens have been killed since the beginning of the year in Israel in incidents connected to violence and crime. In four of the cases, police gunfire was involved.
"It is inconceivable that a call for assistance to the police would end in a killing, all the more so when it was known that he was mentally ill," said the Abraham Initiatives."This terrible result indicates a profound failure in the Police's handling of the case, and this leads to a greater undermining of the relationship between the police and Arab society. We call for a determined DIP investigation, in order to bring those responsible to justice and draw conclusions for the future. Only in this way will it be possible to reverse citizens' [lack of] trust in the law enforcement system."
Last year was the bloodiest year for Arab-Israeli society since the recording of murder rates began, with the Abraham Initiatives reporting that 96 citizens were murdered and hundreds were seriously wounded. The Aman Center for Combating Violence in Arab Society reported that 113 citizens were murdered. In comparison, 89 Arab citizens were killed in 2019.
December 2020 also marked the bloodiest month on record, with 17 murders. The organization warned that 2021 would likely be just as bloody, as already in the first months of the year a number of murders have been reported, alongside the large-scale theft of ammunition from the IDF.