Police will close a probe into a policeman who shot and killed a Palestinian teenager last November when she carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem with a pair of scissors, Channel 2 reported Saturday.
Officials said they had decided to close the case as there was no evidence that the officer had criminal intent in his actions.
The police officer had been questioned by the Police Investigations Unit over his shooting of 16-year-old Hadil Wajia Awad, a schoolgirl who carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, along with her 16-year-old cousin. The two stabbed and wounded a 70-year-old Palestinian man, seated on a bench, whom they had mistaken for a Jew.
The two were shot by the off-duty police sapper and a citizen armed with a gun. Awad was killed, while the cousin survived and has been charged with attempted murder.
The investigation was opened following a decision by then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein, on the advice of the state prosecutor, amid claims that the officer continued to shoot the teen after she no longer posed any danger.
When questioned over the incident, the officer reportedly claimed he had warned the girl prior to shooting her, but she did not heed him. He added that he feared she may be carrying a bomb on her person, and could detonate it.
He also noted that he was alone at the scene and shot at the stabbers with the aim of neutralizing them — but not killing them — the Hebrew-language Walla news reported.
Officials have defended the officer’s decision to shoot the girl more than once, saying that, given the speed with which the incident unfolded and an element of surprise that rendered judgment difficult, he had acted “according to regulations.”
The policeman “was not sure the terrorist was sufficiently wounded” to be unable to harm anyone, police said, citing other instances in which terrorists continued to attack even when hurt.
Awad’s death has been in the headlines this week after IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot came under criticism for saying that the army’s rules of engagement do not include soldiers “emptying a full magazine at a girl holding scissors.”
Eisenkot, speaking to high schoolers in Bat Yam on Wednesday, appeared to be alluding to the case of the two Palestinian cousins.
Rabbis and right-wing lawmakers took Eisenkot to task for his comments, with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely accusing Eisenkot of damaging Israel’s image.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon made clear Thursday that he firmly supports Eisenkot, telling students in the north that Israel could not compromise on its core values, even in the face of persistent Palestinian unrest.
Meanwhile opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Saturday slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to defend Eisenkot, saying “the prime minister (should) stand up and support its commander, and this he did not do. Netanyahu let ministers and MKs in his coalition degrade the man in charge of our security, and this is unacceptable.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also condemned the onslaught against Eisenkot. “In the last 24 hours I’ve seen incessant attacks on the IDF chief by politicians,” he said at an event in Rehovot. “We need to give full backing to the security forces, their work and the rules of engagement. An attack on the IDF chief means an attack on the IDF.”