Police shoot and kill Jerusalem Arab, blame his cousin
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Police shoot and kill Jerusalem Arab, blame his cousin

Officers say they shot at car that wouldn’t stop and accuse the driver in passenger’s death; Justice Ministry investigating

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A vehicle shot by Border Police officers in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem on September 5, 2016. A passenger in the vehicle was killed, while the driver was moderately wounded.
A vehicle shot by Border Police officers in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem on September 5, 2016. A passenger in the vehicle was killed, while the driver was moderately wounded.

The Justice Ministry opened an investigation into the shooting death of an Arab man by Border Police officers on Sunday night as he was riding in a car in East Jerusalem, seeking to determine if the use of deadly force was warranted, a ministry official said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, police have opened their own investigation against the driver of the vehicle, accusing him of “manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, driving without a license, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and endangering lives on a transportation route,” a spokesperson said.

The two men were driving past police officers who were conducting an operation in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem. According to police, the officers opened fire at the vehicle, as it was “continuing in their direction quickly” and not heeding calls to stop. Mustafa Nimir who now lives in Ramat Gan, the passenger, was killed on the spot; his cousin, who was driving the car, was moderately wounded. No Israeli troops were hurt in the incident.

The driver, Ali Nimir, was arrested and taken to the hospital for treatment. Police will bring him before a Jerusalem court on Thursday in order to extend his remand, a spokesperson said.

A video from the scene, broadcast by Channel 10 news Tuesday, cast some suspicion on the officers’ claims. In the footage, the officers could be seen shooting at the vehicle after it had already stopped.

Nimir had been visiting his family in the refugee camp and had driven out with his cousin to pick up pizza. His fiancee, brother and a friend rode in a car behind them, the fiancee told Channel 10 news.

According to the fiancee, some of the officers’ gunfire also struck their vehicle. She also said police only stopped shooting when she identified herself as Jewish.

On Tuesday, Israeli officials visited the family, telling them Nimir was not suspected of terrorism and that they were sorry for his death, Nimir’s father, Talal, said.

“They came to me and apologized. They understood that it wasn’t terror or anything like that. It was an accident. He was a good man,” Talal Nimir told Channel 10 news.

Police would not comment on the officers’ actions, directing questions instead to the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department.

However, the police spokesperson claimed the driver’s “behavior and management of the event” caused his cousin’s death.

The Police Internal Investigations Department opened a preliminary investigation into the incident. Although the probe had yet to come to any conclusions, a spokesperson said Wednesday morning that a decision was expected “soon.”

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