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Israeli police close probe into officer who fatally shot 14-year-old Palestinian girl

April 24, 2017 11:21 P.M. (Updated: April 25, 2017 4:13 P.M.)
A photo of the scene published at the time by Israeli media. (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities have closed an internal investigation into the Israeli police officer who shot and killed a Palestinian teenage girl and injured another in a November 2015 stabbing attack, Israeli news website Ynet news reported on Monday.

Ma’an initially reported that the officer -- who Ynet reported as a “sapper” -- was a security guard. The officer shot and killed 14-year-old Hadil Wajih Awwad and injured 16-year-old Nurhan Awwad after the two girls attempted to stab passersby near a central Jerusalem market.

Video footage at the time showed both girls running at a passerby, apparently waving scissors. The officer then comes to the scene brandishing a gun, at which point the girls continue to move forward with their scissors. The officer then shoots one of the girls to the ground while an Israeli passerby knocks the other over with a chair.

The officer then runs up to the girl who was immobilized from being knocked with a chair, and shoots her at point blank range.

Hadil Awwad died almost immediately, while her cousin Nurhan was seriously injured with two bullet wounds in her stomach.

Hadil, a resident of the Ramallah-area Qalandiya refugee camp, was the sister of Mahmoud Awwad, who locals told Ma’an died in 2013, several months after he was shot and injured during clashes with Israeli forces inside the refugee camp.

According to Ynet, Israeli police and state attorney investigators “accepted the officer's version that he felt his life and the lives of those around him were in danger, leaving him no choice but to respond to the threat immediately.”

Ynet added that while the officer will not face criminal charges, “the investigative materials were transferred to the relevant authorities in the Israel police to consider professional ramifications.”

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians in response to attacks and alleged attempted attacks.

In many cases, Israel’s version of events has been disputed by witnesses, activists, and rights groups who have denounced what they have termed a "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death, or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner -- amid a backdrop of impunity for Israelis who committed the killings.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said earlier this month regarding the policy that “the continued policy of using lethal fire against Palestinians who pose no mortal danger attests to a chilling gap between the recognized and accepted principle that prohibits this use of gunfire, and a reality in which shoot-to-kill incidents are a frequent occurrence and are encouraged by public sentiment, even when suspects no longer poses any danger, if they ever even posed a serious threat in the first place.”

According to rights group Yesh Din, of 186 criminal investigations into suspected offenses against Palestinians opened by the Israeli army in 2015, just four resulted in indictments.

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