A Palestinian killed during what police initially reported as a suspected ramming attack may have been shot after the incident had ended and as officers called for security forces to hold their fire, according to a video released by the human rights group B’Tselem.
Nur Jamal Shuqeir, a 30-year-old Palestinian resident ofٍ Silwan, in East Jerusalem, was pulled over by police officers at the Al-Za’im checkpoint outside of the capital last Wednesday. After being questioned by officers, Shuqeir drove quickly through the checkpoint, lightly wounding one Border Policeman before being shot, according to Israeli authorities.
Authorities initially said the incident was a suspected terror attack, but later stopped using that language.
Al-Za’im, which lies east of Jerusalem, has seen several attempted terror attacks since its construction in 2003. A Palestinian teenager was shot dead at the checkpoint in January 2019 as she tried to stab an Israeli security officer.
But according to the video provided by B’Tselem, the shooting of Shuqeir last week did not happen close to the checkpoint, instead taking place instead a few hundred meters down the road some time after the suspected ramming. In the video, Shuqeir appears to have pulled his car over to the side of the road as several police officers race toward him.
An officer can clearly be heard calling out “Don’t shoot!” before a Border Police officer fires four bullets toward Shuqeir’s car.
“Don’t shoot! Cease fire! Don’t shoot, Tzahi, don’t shoot!” an officer subsequently called out to the shooter, who does not fire another bullet for the remainder of the clip.
Shuqeir does not appear in the video. Absent an autopsy and more details about the incident, it is not clear whether the bullets fired in the video were the ones that ended his life.
A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department told The Times of Israel that the officers’ behavior during the incident is being “examined, but an investigation has not yet been opened.”
A spokesperson for the Border Police did not respond to a request for comment.
Police initially reported the attack as a suspected attempted ramming attack with terrorist motives before saying that the incident was under investigation.
In an indication that authorities no longer believe the Al-Za’im incident was a terror attack, Shuqeir’s body was returned to his family last night. Israel has a controversial policy of detaining the corpses of suspected terrorists in an attempt to detain future attackers.
As further details have emerged, authorities also revised their assessment, saying that they were not sure whether Shuqeir was a terrorist.
נור שקיר, בן 32, נורה למוות היום במחסום א-זעיים לאחר שניסה להימלט (כנראה בגלל שנהג ללא רישיונות) בדרך פגע קלות בלוחם מג"ב. pic.twitter.com/Cr0PJ3TZSO
— نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) November 25, 2020
While being questioned, officers realized that Shuqeir’s identification papers apparently belonged to someone else. Possibly due to the discovery of his false identification, Shuqeir drove his car quickly toward a border guard, hitting and lightly injuring him, police reported at the time.
According to family friend Daoud Siyam, also a resident of East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, Shuqeir had a criminal history and had been released from prison in March. Siyam added that Shuqeir no longer had a valid driver’s license, even though his income came from transporting commercial goods.
“When the officers pulled him over, he probably grew scared of returning to prison,” Siyam told The Times of Israel in a phone call. “He panicked.”
After the shooting, Shuqeir was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where he was pronounced dead, the medical center said. According to the hospital, Shaqir sustained gunshot wounds to the stomach and arrived without a pulse.
Siyam rejected the possibility that there was a potential terrorist motive for Shuqeir’s attempt to flee the officers. He asked why non-lethal means were not used before the police opened fire.
“There needs to be some kind of consideration used by the officers, who are obviously under pressure, stress,” Siyam said. “But what about every means short of shooting?”