Officer cleared in November killing of Arab-Israeli


(JTA) — The policeman who killed an Arab-Israeli man during an arrest in November was cleared of all charges.

Israel’s Justice Ministry said Monday that the investigation of the policeman responsible for the death of Kheir Hamdan, 22, was closed for “lack of guilt,” the French news agency AFP reported.

Hamdan’s death last fall in the Galilee village of Kufr Kana ignited major protests in neighboring Arab-Israeli villages. He was shot after attacking a police van with a knife. Police said the officer fired warning shots and ordered Hamdan to drop the knife, aiming directly at him when he refused to obey.

But a video shows Hamdan banging on the police vehicle and then starting to run off before an officer exits the van and fires his gun. In the video, officers are seen dragging Hamdan’s body by one arm into the vehicle.

The Justice Ministry in a statement said the investigation included “confiscation and analysis of video from security cameras, gathering of evidence from the scene of the incident, carrying out reconstructions, obtaining expert opinions and taking testimony from those involved and from witnesses.”

Arab-Israeli Knesset member Yousef Jabareen called the decision “outrageous and scandalous.”

“But it is not surprising,” he said in a statement, according to AFP. “It comes as a direct continuation of the trigger-happy approach towards Arab citizens.”

Adalah, an Arab-Israeli advocacy group, responded Tuesday in a statement saying that the ruling “gives a green light to the next murder of an Arab citizen by police,” the Times of Israel reported.

Hamdam’s father, Rauf, told the NRG news site that the family is working on an appeal to the state attorney.

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