Border Police kill Hebron man climbing barrier in J’lem

Family denies police claims that illegal worker grabbed officer’s gun.

Seperation barrier Jerusalem (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Seperation barrier Jerusalem
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A border policeman fatally shot a Palestinian man early Sunday morning while he was trying to enter the capital illegally by climbing the separation barrier near Isawiya, an east Jerusalem neighborhood.
The victim, Izzadin Kawazma, a 37-year-old resident of Hebron, was part of a group of 15 men spotted by a patrol of police and border policemen as they were attempting to climb over the wall near the old road from Ma’aleh Adumim to French Hill, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
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Rosenfeld said the men ignored police orders to stop and fled, but an officer caught up with Kawazma.
Rosenfeld said that Kawazma was shot after trying to grab the officer’s gun. He said it wasn’t clear whether the officer fired or his gun discharged accidentally.
Kawazma’s family members, who were among the group of men, denied that there was any contact between Kawazma and the officer and that he was shot at point-blank range.
An autopsy on Sunday afternoon determined that the bullet hit the victim’s right shoulder, severing major arteries to the heart, and that he died almost instantly. A doctor who is a member of Physicians for Human Rights attended the autopsy, along with members of the victim’s family.
Human rights organization B’tselem sent a field worker to the site of the incident to speak with witnesses immediately after the shooting.
“Several eyewitnesses gave testimony that seemed, on its face, to counter the media reports of what the Border Police officers claim,” said B’tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli. “The [Justice Ministry’s] Police Investigations Department has started investigating; we call on them to complete the investigation as quickly as possible.
Michaeli said at least six witnesses testified with to the PID.
The border policeman reenacted the incident on Sunday afternoon for police investigators.
He was later released to house arrest.
Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmulik Ben-Ruby told The Jerusalem Post that the police and Border Police catch Palestinians trying to climb over the separation barrier into Jerusalem almost every day. He added that the attempts are made both by large groups, such as Sunday’s incident, as well as individuals.
While police are aware that some sections of the separation barrier are particularly popular with Palestinians trying to enter illegally, the barrier around Isawiya was not known to be especially problematic, Ben-Ruby said. Police and Border Police patrols are increased in the problematic areas.
“They find all these different areas where they can climb up and enter Israel,” Ben-Ruby told the Post.
Ben-Ruby said that skirmishes between the authorities and Palestinians trying to enter illegally have ended with injuries, but this was the first time he could remember a fatality.
The shooting came almost two weeks after riots erupted in Silwan, after a 35-year-old east Jerusalem resident was killed.
In the past two weeks, police have arrested almost 50 Arab residents for disturbing the peace in various incidents.
In the riots immediately after the death of Silwan resident Samr Sirkhan on September 22, violence spread from Silwan to the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, as angry rioters threw thousands of stones at police forces.
Ten people were injured, including a 35-year-old Israeli who was stabbed in the back on moderately wounded near the Mount of Olives.
Rioters threw stones at officers, vehicles and buses causing injuries and damage, and a police vehicle and several other vehicles were set alight near Jerusalem’s Old City.
AP and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.