Border cops who fatally shot Palestinian attacker expected to be cleared

TV report says police chief intends to honor officers with citation; pair visit wounded civilian they saved at the hospital: ‘We were doing what had to be done’

Israeli security forces at the scene of stabbing attack outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, on December 4, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of stabbing attack outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, on December 4, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Two Border Police officers, who on Saturday shot dead a Palestinian assailant after he stabbed a Jewish civilian in a suspected terror attack near the Old City of Jerusalem, are expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing in the case, Hebrew media reported Sunday.

The probe led by the Justice Ministry’s internal investigations unit was expected to be closed without charges in the coming days.

The officers were questioned after video of the incident showed them firing several shots at the attacker once he was already lying on the ground. Police video of the entire incident that was later released showed that the officers did not immediately fire at the assailant, but did so only after he moved, apparently trying to get up.

The two, who have received significant backing from the prime minister, police chief, and other top officials, say they feared he was still dangerous when they shot him.

The pair were questioned by the Police Internal Investigations Department Saturday, and their weapons were confiscated. But officials have stressed that this is standard procedure in any fatal shootings, and did not indicate that the two were suspected of wrongdoing.

According to Channel 13 news, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Border Police chief Amir Cohen intend to honor the pair for their actions with official citations.

The two officers met Sunday with Avraham Elimelich, the attack victim was stabbed in the neck by Muhammad Salima before the latter attempted to attack the officers and was shot.

“It was an honor to save your life, that’s why we’re here,” one of the officers told Elimelich as they visited him at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

“We were doing our job, we were doing what had to be done,” said the other.

Elimelich, 25, thanked the officers.

“Thanks so much for saving me. Without you, I don’t know if I would be here,” he said. “God sent you at the right time and the right place.”

Avraham Elimelich, who was wounded in a suspected terror stabbing outside Jerusalem’s Old City, is seen outside the emergency room at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, December 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Earlier Sunday, Israeli forces arrested the brother of the suspected terrorist. The brother, who is suspected of having prior knowledge of Salima’s intentions to carry out an assault and of possibly assisting him, was detained at his home in the West Bank town of Salfit.

Also Sunday, a judge ordered a taxi driver suspected of transporting Salima to be held in custody for at least five more days.

The man, a resident of the “triangle” of Arab towns in northern Israel, in his 40s, is suspected of assisting Salima.

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