Police are waiting for the results of a forensic report to determine whether William Hershkovitz, the American intern who killed Abed Armando Shukhallah in Eilat two weeks ago, had taken his own life moments before being gunned down by security forces.
Early reports determined that an officer belonging to the IDF’s Counterterrorism Unit killed Hershkovitz after he fired on security forces in a siege on the hotel kitchen, where he had been holed up. However, the autopsy results revealed that Hershkovitz had suffered two shots to the head, leading investigators to suspect he had used his weapon on himself before being shot by the officer.
One of the officers on the scene said he heard shots fired in the kitchen before the counterterrorism unit stormed the room.
Army Radio reported Thursday morning that police are considering launching an investigative committee following letters of complaint over police mishandling of the incident received by the Ministry for Public Security, the police commissioner’s office and the state comptroller. The news report stated that questions have been raised over the police’s rush to use force against Hershkovitz, despite knowing that he was not holding hostages, and the failure of police negotiators to engage Hershkovitz in dialogue.
Hershkovitz, 23, an American who was interning at the hotel as part of a program organized by the Jewish Agency, used the gun of a security guard to fire four shots at the 33-year-old Shukhallah after a fight broke out between the men following the termination of Hershkovitz’s employment at the Leonardo Club hotel in Eilat.
Hershkovitz arrived in Israel in August as part of a work and study program sponsored by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency.
The dead man’s family does not accept the police statement that the shooting was a work-related dispute and asked for it to be investigated as a terror attack.
“This was a terror attack in every way,” a cousin told Yedioth Ahronoth last week. “The murderer had said that he hates Arabs and he killed Armando just because he belongs to a minority.”
Shukhallah was from Mi’iliya, an Arab-Christian village in the western Galilee.
Program co-participants had complained in the past about Hershkovitz’s violent tendencies and threats to other participants.
One person, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Hershkovitz made statements “against Arabs, or Nazis, or terrorist type movements.”