‘He looked me in the eye and turned the wheel,’ says cop hurt in alleged ramming

Shani Orr Hama Kadosh stresses incident was deliberate after questions raised about West Bank shooting

Shani Orr Hama Kadosh, a Border Police officer who was injured in a suspected ramming attack on June 23, 2020, describes the incident in an interview the following day. (Screenshot/Channel 13)

A Border Police officer on Wednesday described a suspected car-ramming attack that injured her the previous day in the West Bank, stressing that the incident was deliberate after questions were raised about the police response.

Shani Orr Hama Kadosh was lightly injured in the incident at a checkpoint in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, and the alleged rammer was shot dead.

“I signaled to him to halt, the car started to slow down, and I moved in his direction,” Kadosh told Channel 13 news. “He saw that I took a step, he looked me in the eye, turned the steering wheel and rammed into me, and I flew to the other side” of the median.

“The soldiers understood what happened, heard me yell, turned straight in his direction, saw him getting out in their direction, cocked their weapons, and fired in his direction,” Kadosh said.

“I didn’t understand at first when he looked at me, and only when I went flying, I understood that this was an attack,” she said.

The suspected attacker, Ahmad Moustafa Erekat, 28, was shot dead at the scene.

Border Police on Wednesday released security footage from the incident as officials rejected accusations that troops killed Erekat without reason.

In the video, a car driven by Erekat can be seen approaching the checkpoint before abruptly accelerating and turning toward a group of police. The car then rams into Kadosh, who is knocked into the air, then it collides with a booth and comes to a stop.

As the driver gets out of the vehicle, he appears to begin running from the police officers, but quickly falls to the ground after being shot.

“He waited for a good moment, turned from the middle of the lane to the side to get a better angle to hurt the officer and then accelerated, turning his car 90 degrees, and lunged wildly at the officers,” a Border Police statement said.

In a second video that emerged Wednesday, Erekat is seen in his car speaking of rumors he has collaborated with Israeli security forces while promising he is “no snitch.” Some Hebrew media reports said the video was made shortly before the incident. But according to Kan news, Erekat’s family said it was a months-old clip.

In comments to Hebrew media, a Border Police source dismissed accusations that Erekat was killed in cold blood.

“Unfortunately, in recent hours various elements have chosen to portray the event in a completely distorted way and not as a ramming attack, while besmirching the officers’ conduct and covering up the terrorist’s grave actions,” the Border Police source was quoted saying.

Ahmad Erekat. (Courtesy)

In the second video that circulated on social media Wednesday, Erekat is seen in his car, saying “Your bro’s no snitch. I never betrayed the homeland.”

He appears to refer to Israeli officials or agents pressuring him, “[trying to] get me in trouble” by putting his photo on the Facebook page of COGAT, the body that coordinates between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.

Erekat’s family said the video was made months ago, refuting its characterization as a testimonial made ahead of a planned attack.

On Tuesday, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Ahmad Moustafa Erekat, his cousin, was only “rushing” through the checkpoint, and rejected Israel’s account that he intentionally drove into the police officer as part of an attack.

“Israeli soldiers shot dead Ahmad Erekat from Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, on his sister’s wedding day,” PLO executive committee secretary-general Erekat’s office said in a statement. “Ahmad was rushing through a checkpoint to bring his mother and sister from a beauty salon in Bethlehem.”

“My cousin, the nephew of my wife, was executed, murdered in cold blood and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu bears responsibility,” Erekat was separately quoted as having told the Kan public broadcaster.

Ahmad himself was slated to be married next week, Erekat said.

Another cousin, Rutgers University assistant professor Noura Erekat, accused Israeli authorities of letting Ahmad bleed to death, after footage emerged of him bleeding on the ground as a Border Police officer nearly steps over him but declines to offer medical help.

The PLO Negotiations office further claimed that the Israeli army had prevented the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency response service from reaching the scene and providing medical treatment.

Responding to the allegations, a Border Police spokesman told The Times of Israel that forces provided medical attention to the assailant within minutes, but were forced to declare his death minutes later.

Footage from the scene after Erekat had been shot shows him bleeding, but still moving. The Border Police spokesman said the video in question had been filmed in the minutes before medics arrived at the scene.

News of the alleged attack and shooting traveled quickly through Erekat’s hometown of Abu Dis, and clashes broke out between Israeli security forces and Abu Dis residents. Protesters set tires and garbage ablaze to block one of the town’s main roads, according to videos circulating on Palestinian social media.

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